Poet Amanda Gorman’s work was among a list of titles removed from a Florida school district but the writer’s pitch to rally support for a lawsuit left out a number of key details.
On Jan. 20, 2021, Gorman read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Now, that text has been pulled from a Miami Lakes, Florida elementary school library after a parent complained of “indirect hate messages.”
Mother of two students at Bob Graham Education Center, Daily Salinas had challenged access to “The ABCs of Black History,” “Cuban Kids,” “Countries in the News Cuba,” “Love to Langston” and Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” according to the Miami Herald.
Her reasoning varied from title to title and charged they contained examples of critical race theory, gender ideology and indoctrination. When speaking with the Herald, Salinas made clear that she “is not for eliminating or censoring any books” but instead wants students “to know the truth,” particularly as it pertained to Cuba.
As a result of her protest, “Countries in the News Cuba” was deemed acceptable for all students, being “balanced and age-appropriate in its wording and presentation.” The other titles, including Gorman’s, were decided to be “better suited” or “more appropriate” for older students.
“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,” the poet wrote on social media.
“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,” she lamented.
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) May 23, 2023
“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,” she continued without delving into the content of the objectionable books that have been deemed to be too pornographic to be recited at school board meetings yet somehow still acceptable to be accessed by elementary school kids.
She also shared the document filled out that asserted her book contained “hate messages” and was designed to “cause confusion and indoctrinate students” and took aim at the parent who reported the author as Oprah Winfrey. What Gorman did not relate was that the error was not one of mistaken identity, but stemmed from the fact that Winfrey penned the forward to the 32-page volume.
So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with @oprah , fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives…Unnecessary #bookbans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back DONATE here:… pic.twitter.com/p96dlnrSp4
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) May 23, 2023
As Gorman called for supporters to join her publisher, Penguin Random House, and nonprofit PEN America in a lawsuit brought in Florida’s Escambia County, another pivotal detail left out was that the “ban” determined the book would have to be re-shelved to the middle school section of the library, and was therefore still accessible at the school, as well as at book retailers across the country.
In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office released a video to expose the hoax of book bans which said of removed materials, “These books violate Florida standards and curriculum. The hoax from the left is that these books were never in Florida schools.”
“Every minute you spend focusing on some of this pornographic stuff, that’s less time you’re spending on doing the things that really matter to our kids, in terms of them getting the education they need in math and reading and all of these other things,” DeSantis said at the press conference on the hoax. “The only way you make that decision, in my judgement, is if you’re putting your own agenda before the well-being of the students. And that’s something we’re seeing all too often.”
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