Parents, students, educators debate ‘The Color Purple’

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Submitted: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 4:38am
Updated: Wed, 11/06/2013 - 4:45am

BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County parents, students, and educators are arguing over a chapter in the Pulitzer Prize winning book “The Color Purple” that describes the rape of a young girl, and if it’s appropriate for high school students.

“I just don’t see why any parent or educator would want to put this material in front of innocent minds,” said Hannah Giordano, a junior at West Brunswick High School.

Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel describes the life of a young, uneducated black woman in 1930’s America, but some are worried that message no longer resonates.

“If you are given the opportunity to maturely discuss controversial topics such as rape that are described profanely then you can learn what happens when you are uneducated then you can learn and become educated so that these things don’t happen to you,” said Hannah Caison, a junior at West Brunswick High School.

The debate about the books appropriateness began at West Brunswick High School where junior AP students are now asking school board members not to turn the page on the discussion.

“Why would they rather us learn from MTV than a book that they said in there thousands of times that has merit,” said Lauren Demko, a junior at West Brunswick High School.

Both sides are now urging board members to consider one final thing before they close the book on “The Color Purple”.

“The only way to prevent history from repeating itself of what has happened,” said Caison.

The Brunswick County School Board has not made a decision on whether to ban or censor “The Color Purple”, but they have said they will take all of the concerns into consideration before making their final call.


  • Natchez says:

    The television has an off button and while some documentaries and dramatizations may be occasionally required for a class, generally, they are not. Students, parents and the public can turn it off. Furthermore, if television has become as graphic as “The Color Purple,” and I may be missing something, it may well be just that nasty, we all should pull the plug. Give students a choice. Students don’t have to take the AP English exam in the public school system simply because they have to pay for it themselves. Such adult content should not be required reading for 17 and 18 year olds.

  • taxpayer says:

    these same parents have no problem with their child being shown how to put a condom on a banana in Sex Ed class…in middle school.

  • Beth says:

    Sigh. Rape is inappropriate, but it happens. At much younger ages than these high school kids. Seems to me some people rather look the other way than deal with its ugly face. Writing about it, in graphic detail isn’t condoning it, it is telling it like it is. Chances are some of those girls may have already experienced it themselves, but you will never know because no one wants to hear about it.

  • 1492 says:

    The story of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was in the New Testament not the Old Testament.

    If you’re so unfamiliar with the Bible that you don’t even know that, you are totally unqualified to discuss and comment on its writings just as you would be unqualified with any other piece of literature.

    If you’ve failed to educate yourself to such an extent that you actually think the Bible is the “most brutal” book ever written, you are totally unqualified to discuss and comment on its writings just as you would be with any other piece of literature.

    Regardless of an individual’s opinion on a topic, I can totally respect someone’s right to have one, provided they have at least made the effort to study and understand the topic. You, on the other hand, are obviously just pulling an opinion out of your behind with nothing more to substantiate it than your own stupidity.

  • KT says:

    I did not mean to put the 3 on crosses into the Old Testament. I do know better because nothing about Jesus fits into the Old Testament’s violence. He was the true Christian.

  • O'Henry says:

    I would have guessed Brunswick County High Schools would assign a book as lowbrow as The Color Purple.

    Please publish the list of books Brunswick County students are required to read. I imagine there is a diversity of everyday fiction and no great literature.

    The students, not to mention their English teachers, would not have the taste, attention span, nor the intellect to appreciate literature.

  • Anonymous says:

    As The Color Purple is a Pulitzer Prize and national book award winning book, I would argue that it is far from lowbrow. As a friend of a parent I can tell you that other selections this year in these classes have included The Great Gatsby, In Cold Blood, The Color of Water, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and The Scarlett Letter.
    I applaud the young women who understand just how important this book is and hope the school board does not take further action to remove the book.

  • Vog46 says:

    To the latest Kinsey(?) report – the average age of first sexual intercourse in the United States is 17. Other sex acts begin earlier.
    As unfortunate as THAT is we also have to be pragmatic here.
    I would much rather they learn this then bury their heads in the sand in the hope that ignorance will make rape go away.

    The students wanting this book kept in the library are showing REAL leadership here.


  • Guest2020 says:

    I guess I don’t know how I have survived all these years on Earth without having read that book. Since I never read it, I have no idea about rape. And how in the world did I make to high school graduation without having read books with cussing or graphic depictions of rape. You don’t need to promote inappropriate material in order to teach kids about the real world.

  • Beth says:

    Rape IS GRAPHIC! Rape is horrid. Do you really think you can stop rape by it not being described in books? Maybe if people really understood how horrid the crime of rape really is maybe those that serve on juries would be less likely to let perpetrators walk. But no, we pretend as though the crime doesn’t exist and that isn’t so horrible by soft shoeing the crime and its effects thereby allowing it to go on.

  • SacredV says:

    My sentiments exactly! If we do not open actions like rape, incest, and other abuses for discussion how will the next generation know what to do if they see/experience such in real life? How will young adults know what actions define rape and why it is wrong if they are never told so or are made aware of such actions’ impact? We must learn to relate and sympathize with our fellow man. I feel the main issue here is the parents in question do not know how to discuss such issues with their children, so they would rather ignore it. This is completely counter-productive to having an educated society.

    When I was at Leland Middle a book I was reading on Native American history was pulled from the shelves due to a an illustrated picture of a woman in ceremonial garb that showed her breasts. However, no one made a peep about ‘Flowers in the Attic’, a book with child abuse/murder, imprisonment, and incest being on the shelves. Alot of kids missed out on historical reading because ONE teacher was offended by it. I can speak from experience that this is indeed a slippery slope.

    A simple opt-out program with alternate titles offered should be the only course of action here. Banning books ultimately shows our children it is okay to ban free speech.

  • KT says:

    I started teaching in 1962, fortunately in Baltimore County, MD. I think that the level of honesty on the part of parents was perhaps a bit higher than here in 2013. Every day a rape of someone in your community is ‘reported’ and unreported ? Let YOUNG INNOCENT, although with today’s media how anyone can be ‘innocent’ is totally beyond me,girls and boys read what can happen. How will they know anything about what can happen if they are NOT informed before they are in the same horrible situation?? News stories of perverts who chain women in basements might have escaped you but it just happened. We do NOT prepare our young people for what they are going to face. Many will go into the military service because elected officials vote for war rather than jobs where 500,000 service people in this country currently suffer from PTSD. No ‘news’ show will report the number of bodies arriving back in the states from our multiple wars. It is hidden so young people look at benefits and are seemingly unaware of risks. Let the girls know something that is not on OMG or whatever is parading as information on TV.

  • belle says:

    I applaud the young women who spoke their conscience and beliefs concerning this book. I’m generally against book banning because I always come back to the question, “Where do you draw the line?” The King James Bible speaks of heartless rapes, incest, and debauchery but doesn’t go into graphic detail. To become a classic work, a book has to speak to timeless themes, appeal to audiences across the board of all ages and present the idea in a way that will stand the test of time. To be honest, if I started reading it, I’d probably, not just put it down, I’d throw it in the trash. But after some thought, I can’t say it doesn’t meet the criteria of a classic work. Unfortunately, women all over the world in 3rd world countries are subjected to worse that is described in ‘The Color Purple” every day. The question boils down to, do we require young people to read this book, or is it best left as a choice. It is clearly adult literature. Can we in good conscience defend it as having any merit. Good luck school board. Again, I applaud you, young ladies. I hope you can always speak your convictions in a country that respects and hears you.

  • Natchez says:

    I didn’t add that the King James Bible is the greatest literary work of Western civilization. It is a religious work, for sure, but it is also the standard of timelessness. It was translated by 50 of the greatest scholars of the day and the cadence and prose it is written in has lead generations to memorize it’s lyrical phrasing. It remains unparalleled in it’s beauty and the shear amazing poetic style it is written in. I would hate to see some crazy zealot, demand it’s banning. That is why we must proceed with caution. I also love Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” and the second greatest work of the 20th century, “The Great Gatsby.” Are any of these 3 on the classic reading list or the AP test?

  • KT says:

    Ur, the Jewish bible or Old Testament contains the horrible story of men who raped their daughters doesn’t it? It talks of killing a lot, doesn’t it? It talks of 3 men cruelly, slowly killed on crosses, doesn’t it? It talks of a man, Abraham, who was willing to kill his SON because god told him to. What GOD that you want to worship would ask you to kill your child??? Anyway, this won’t be published and the influence of the most brutal book ever written will never be questioned by most of you.

  • Guest2020 says:

    That material is inappropriate, especially for children of any age. Why not go with more classics? Most of them are better than the modern books put out today. If an author has such a limited vocabulary that they cannot refrain from profanity, then they have no business writing and they certainly have no part in a child’s education.

    When my daughter was a junior, she asked to opt out of the book and given an alternative. She was not the first person in her class to do this, but the teacher lit into her something fierce.

    Surely they can find something more suitable to use to educate our children properly. This is definitely one of many causes of the decline of our education system.

  • guest1355 says:

    Hope these “innocent minds” do not watch TV.

  • HAHAHAHA! says:

    You couldnt find 10 innocent minds at any high school!

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