This writing prompt reminds me of a short fiction piece I wrote for a class this May titled, “An open letter to the Green Bay Area Public School Board, the Superintendent, and the Green Bay Press Gazette.” It describes a teacher who has decided to turn in their resignation because the School Board voted to ban Zakiya Dalila Harris’s The Other Black Girl; a book that has had a huge impact on me and sparked my deep fear about libraries and schools—especially high schools—banning books.
My fictional character lists three concerns:
First, The Other Black Girl is not only appropriate for high school students it is imperative that young adults read every possible viewpoint and that they are allowed to draw their own conclusions. We must not shelter our high school students (shelter? a fallacy now that we all live under the umbrella of social media); we must not try to pretend that we live in a utopian society while historical wounds fester and resentment grows.
Next, the School Board’s concern is that the Other Black Girl subtly supports and condones Critical Race Theory (CRT). My character implores the community not to allow CRT to be silenced by the very people it threatens. By silencing CRT, we are sending a clear message to our young people to fear “theories,” to fear voices that speak out against social injustice, and to fear potential truths—instead of searching for their own truth/s. We must conquer fear; we must not allow small groups of privileged parents to silence Critical Race Theory.
And finally, banning this book—any book that promotes diversity—compromises the integrity of our education in this country. My character’s dream is that their students will take action, will face the uncomfortable truths that a few parents and the School Board want them to run away from, and, by embracing diversity, their students’ will force this country to reach its endless potential. My character’s dream could not be destroyed by a few narrow-minded parents and the School Board. They resigned but they did not quit. They had just begun to fight.
I am now envisioning a longer fiction piece portraying this teacher running for that very same School Board, winning, speaking out, and facing the threats and racism. Will they succeed? Not sure. An uncertainty that scares me.