CBLDF has joined the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Kids’ Right to Read Project in calling for the restoration of BUCK: A Memoir by M.K. Asante to Baltimore County School District classrooms.
CBLDF is a sponsor of KRRP. CBLDF joins coalition efforts like these to protect the freedom to read comics. Censorship manifests in many ways, and the unique visual nature of comics makes them more prone to censorship than other types of books. Taking an active stand against all instances of censorship curbs precedent that could adversely affect the rights upon which comics readers depend.
BUCK, which depicts the author’s turbulent upbringing in a low-income community in Philadelphia, was being used as supplemental reading in high school classrooms and was widely supported by teachers in the district. A single parent in the district complained about out-of-context profanity and sexual content in the book during a biased televised report from local NBC affiliate WBAL. The school district subsequently pulled the book from classrooms, claiming it was not part of the approved curriculum.
In official statements to NCAC, the school doubled down on the “it’s not censorship” defense by telling NCAC that the book was not removed because of the parental complaint but because “assigning BUCK in its entirety would have the effect of limiting time to complete the approved curriculum…supplanting rather than supplementing the core texts.”
Because the district was not being transparent in their communications with NCAC, the organization filed a FOIA request for relevant public records. Further, the district lacks a comprehensive materials review policy, and teachers and librarians were not included in the decision-making process that led to the removal of the book. NCAC also questioned why, of all the supplemental texts used in district classrooms, BUCK in particular was singled out.
CBLDF joined the American Booksellers for Free Expression, National Council of Teachers of English, the AUthors Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors on the KRRP statement, which demands the restoration of BUCK:
BCPS administrators, we urge you to return BUCK: A Memoir to the classrooms from which it was pulled and convene a committee of competent educators to review its suitability for next term. We are happy to offer our support and guidance for best practices in balancing the concerns of individual parents with the best interest of all students. BUCK tells an important story that resonates with your students. Do not deprive them of seeing their lives represented in the books they read.