Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison has come out swinging against the Ohio State Board of Education’s attempt to ban her novel The Bluest Eye. According to Columbus, Ohio’s NBC Channel 4, Morrison responded directly to allegations by director of the state school board Debe Terhar that the book is too graphic for students.
“I resent it,” said Morrison, who told Channel 4 that the book, which tells the story of an African-American girl who is raped and impregnated by her father, has been banned dozens of times since it was published in the 1970s.
Morrison, who was born in Lorain, OH, said that she finds it particularly galling to be banned in her home state. “I mean if it’s Texas or North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states. But to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio having been born in Lorain, Ohio. And actually relating as an Ohio person, to have the Ohio, what, Board of Education? Is ironic at the least.”
Terhar issued a statement late this week that read, in part, “The comments I made reflected my concern about the graphic passages contained in a specific text. I do not personally believe these passages are suitable for school age children. Nothing more and nothing less should be inferred. In particular, no disparagement was meant towards the celebrated career of Ohio author Toni Morrison.”
The book is not mandatory for any students in the state, but is merely on a possible list of books that high school students can study and report on. The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced Friday that it will intervene if necessary.
ACLU of Ohio member Gary Daniels said that “more credit should be given to the young people of Ohio” to understand and cope with what they read.
Watch video about this story, embedded below via Columbus, Ohio’s Channel 4 News: