Well, this is infuriating!
Amanda Gorman‘s acclaimed poem The Hill We Climb, which was written for and performed at President Joe Biden‘s inauguration in 2021 has been BANNED from a Florida school!
According to documents obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project on Tuesday, a parent of a student at the public school Bob Graham Education Center in the Miami-Dade County area complained about the poem — and had it removed from the elementary section of the school’s library! The education center teaches kindergarten through eighth grade.
Get this: in the complaint, the parent erroneously listed Oprah Winfrey as the author/publisher of the piece. They didn’t even know who wrote it — which means they can’t be very familiar with what they’re trying to ban!! WTF!
If you haven’t heard the already classic poem about not giving up as we constantly strive for a better world, here’s Amanda reading it at the 2021 Inauguration:
As for the argument of this one parent who apparently gets to decide, they claimed the poem “is not educational and have [sic] indirectly hate messages” while also stressing it would “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.” While the parent wanted the whole poem removed, they pointed out the passage that they found most concerning:
“We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what ‘just is’ isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
They think that’s harmful to kids?! Whaat??
Frankly there is nothing we can see offensive in this poem in the slightest. Frankly we have to wonder if it’s the fact it was the Inauguration poem of Biden, the potential political opponent of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, that made it a big target.
The same parent also made similar complaints about Love To Langston, a poetry-based biography about the Black poet Langston Hughes, The ABCs of Black History, and two books about Cuba. What do all these things have in common? Hmm, our minds race, but we just can’t figure it out…
Upon a review of the materials, a panel at the school declined to remove the books entirely, but they did move the Gorman poem and two other items to the library’s middle school section (which is meant for sixth through eighth graders), according to minutes of an April committee meeting. We guess that’s better than completely removing the material, but it still sends the wrong signal! Sigh.
This poem’s removal comes amid Florida’s increasingly problematic legislature at the hands of DeSantis. The state’s law now requires the approval of books in classrooms and allows any parent complaining about specific works the ability to get them in front of a banning committee. Already, books focused on LGBTQ issues, social justice, and even math textbooks have been barred from schools. But yes, there does seem to be a particular focus on Black history and LGBT topics. Shocker.
Amanda has already clapped back at the decision to remove her poem based on “a single objection,” saying she is “gutted” by the news in a statement on Tuesday. The 25-year-old shared across social media:
“I’m gutted. Because of one parent’s complaint, my inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, has been banned from an elementary school in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Book bans aren’t new. But they have been on the rise — according to the ALA, 40% more books were challenged in 2022 compared to 2021. What’s more, often all it takes to remove these works from our libraries and schools is a single objection. And let’s be clear: most of the forbidden works are by authors who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves. The majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices.”
On the importance of her poem, she continued:
“I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.”
Addressing the controversy in a statement to CNN, Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Elmo Lugo said:
“It was determined at the school that The Hill We Climb is better suited for middle school students and, it was shelved in the middle school section of the media center. The book remains available in the media center.”
However, while the school did not declare the book banned outright, Amanda pointed out that “a school book ban is any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished.” So, the school trying to avoid a little controversy by saying it was moved to a new section — i.e. only banned a little? Well, we all know what they’re really doing!
A school book ban is any action taken against a book that leaves access to a book restricted or diminished. This decision of moving my book from its original place, taken after one parent complained, diminishes the access elementary schoolers would have previously had to my poem.… https://t.co/hIsCYLNlGq
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) May 24, 2023
Innerestingly, the Miami-Dade County mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, tried to make things right on Twitter by inviting the young poet for a reading. She said:
“Your poem inspired our youth to become active participants in their government and to help shape the future. We want you to come to Miami-Dade to do a reading of your poem. If you’re in, we will coordinate.”
It does not appear as if Amanda has reacted to the offer to perform a reading at this time. What do YOU think she should do in light of this?! Sound OFF (below)!