DO YOU AGREE? Two books on a summer reading list at a South Carolina high school have caused upset among local authorities who believe the selections paint law enforcement in a negative light -- https://t.co/Hae2Ox6AxL pic.twitter.com/1CVy8YYNJD— News4JAX (@wjxt4) June 16, 2018
Police in South Carolina are reportedly upset over Wando High School’s summer reading list.
The two books that have caused controversy are “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas, and “All American Boys,” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Both these books tackle racial discrimination and police brutality.
Given the number of lives lost at the hands of the police and the ascending cases of police brutality, the placement of the books on the summer reading list comes hardly as a surprise.
However, John Blackmon, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 — which represents local, state, and federal law enforcement officers in Charleston and Colleton counties — has accused the school of indoctrinating students with distrust for law enforcement.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal. They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these types of interactions,” he said. “This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
While Blackmon’s statements accuse the school of forcing a set of beliefs on their students, the fact that students have to select just one book, to read, out of five, completely negates his claims.
Students can choose books other than the two mentioned above, if they wish to. So to claim the school has any sort of vendetta against the law enforcement and the books are there for purposes other than to teach students of real societal issues, which has unfortunately become a part of the culture, is highly misconstrued.
But Blackmon did not stop there.
“There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police?” he said. “That seems odd to me.”
Moreover, some parents have also come forward protesting the inclusion of the books on question in the summer reading list. The school will reportedly forward the complaints to a committee which will address the parents’ complaints keeping in mind the point of view of the teacher who assigned these books.
However, increasing cases of police shooting unarmed black men has become a national pandemic and given birth to an international activist movement called Black Lives Matter.
In 2015, a white former policeman Michael Slager was caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back after traffic stop in South Carolina. He was later sentenced to 20 years in prison, with a federal judge ruling that the killing amounted to murder.
Slager’s conviction was one of the few cases in which a policeman was held accountable for on-duty shootings.
After the incident, many cases of police brutality have come to light, with little to no reprimand for the officer involved. The issue took center-stage after Black Lives Matter protests shed light on the racial discrimination evidently present within the law enforcement.
Whether it is Stephon Clark, a black man who was shot dead in his own backyard after cops mistook his cell phone for a gun, or Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, the police force has time and again failed the community and criminally not held accountable for their acts.
In fact, according to data collected by The Washington Post, 987 people have been shot and killed by the police in 2017. Keeping these figures in mind, it is hardly a surprise a high school book list included these particular books to educate youth about racial discrimination and to tackle its prevalence in the society.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters