A week celebrating books that challenge status quo

Angela Choi and Alli Wong, Staff Writers

From “To Kill a Mockingbird” to “All American Boys” to “Stamped,” Ethnic Studies teacher Stefanie Menera and English 2 Honors teachers Kerry Murphy and Heather Amanatullah have organized projects in their classes for this week’s Banned Book Week, which takes place throughout this week.

In Ethnic Studies, a new social science class this year, students are analyzing the banned book “The Hate You Give,” a recently challenged book because some said it brought an “anti-police” message. The story follows the main character as she finds that her best friend was racially profiled and shot by a police officer while driving down the street.

Freshman Jade Rugnao says that by analyzing these books, she sees the underlying discrimination that has shaped the censorship of books like these.

“People don’t want to make people in power look bad,” Rugnao said. “So they’ll take knowledge away from the public just to keep people from power. It’s interesting, finding that ignorance serves as a large form of control in our society.”

Menera hopes to inspire her students to understand how these forms of censorship link to power structures in society. She says that although books may not seem to be as important now due to other more mainstream media such as social media and the Internet, the censorship of books reflects society’s views on power structures over time.

“We’re talking a lot about identity mainly, (and) who we are as individuals and how the identity of others sort of places us in terms of our social structure,”Menera said. “I’m hoping that they’re able to see how books are a manifestation of society’s power structure and why people take information and withhold it from groups that have more or less power.”