'The Bluest Eye' Is the Latest Victim of the Thought Police
The Barnes & Noble clerk eyed the stack of paperbacks I slid toward the register. Four copies of "The Bluest Eye," rounding out the other two I'd just purchased at another store.
"Enjoy your... large amount of Toni Morrison," he said.
I told him that the Pinellas County school district, where I live in Florida, had just banned the book from high schools. I'd be depositing these in Little Free Libraries around town. He cracked a smile.
"Right on," he said, slipping the receipt between the pages.
Yes, I said banned. The school district would not prefer that word, insisting the book by the late Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner was simply "removed" from every high school in the county. But this type of semantic acrobatics is akin to calling a sofa a couch.
The next morning, I drove around, sliding the copies into community book boxes. It was a wholesome act of rebellion, practically Pollyanna, but it felt tangible, a sliver of dissent in Florida's sinking bog of critical thought.
"The Bluest Eye," published in 1970, is the latest casualty in a wave of American anti-intellectualism. Supporters of such measures would call it a win against wokeness, increasingly Batman villain code for anything that attempts to recognize the experience of people who aren't straight and white.
On Tuesday -- in the middle of Florida's Literacy Week, no less -- district officials announced they were "erring on the side of caution" due to the novel's sexual content and dark themes. This is because one parent at one school complained. For the record, it's not like any minors were Clockwork Oranged into reading it. Parents of students in that advanced literature class were informed about the content and offered an alternate book.
But this "removal" isn't about one novel, is it? This is about sowing mistrust in educators, destabilizing the public school system and pushing parents toward privatization. In perhaps the greatest irony, it's about erasing uncomfortable truths in favor of a sanguine and simplified view of reality.
If anyone would like to pick up "The Bluest Eye" and examine it longer than the length of a TikTok, you will come to understand this is why Morrison wrote it in the first place. She felt many works by her contemporaries did not fully capture the complexity of Blackness.
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