Persepolis and censorship

I learned today that Chicago schools are effectively banning Persepolis from 7th through 10th grade classrooms and school libraries:

Chicago schools reported on 15 March that they had been told by the district to remove the comic-strip memoir about growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution from both libraries and classrooms.

What I find troubling about this is how it removes a powerful narrative about questioning authority and perseverance–something from which many young (and old) people draw strength, on the grounds that some images were “offensive.” What is problematic here, is that 1) Persepolis is a drawn, it does not contain graphic photographs (the like of which are readily available in magazines and, um, the internet) and 2) it infanilizes young people who are quite aware of the world around them are are capable of reading a text which presents the autobiography of a teenager who actually lived through what they are probably studying in class. Censorship is so rarely about protecting those with less power as it is about further entrenching the power of those who already have it.


“We understand why the district would be afraid of a book like this – at a time when they are closing schools – because it’s about questioning authority, class structures, racism and gender issues,” said [Chicago Teacher’s Union Financial secreary Kristine] Mayle.

The American Library Association said the removal of the books from students’ hands “represents a heavy-handed denial of students’ rights to access information, and smacks of censorship”.

Reading of episodes like this, however, make me so grateful to have the library that we do, the fantastic teachers and school leadership, and the freedom to learn and grow as students and citizens of the world. As our mission statement points out, global citizens must continually practice thinking, questioning, and creating and must accept the responsibilities posed by education in a democratic society.

Read the whole article here:

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