Image by Chen / Pixabay

When my brothers and I were growing up, we were well aware that the “F” word was strictly forbidden in our home. This was a law laid down by my mother and backed by my father. It was a word she absolutely couldn’t tolerate hearing.

As an adult I’m not a huge fan of it either, although I’ll admit to dropping an occasional f-bomb myself if I’m pushed to the brink, never in front of kids though. The word I have an issue with is the “N” word. Much worse, in my estimation.

I recently read an historical novel set in the Kentucky hills in the mid-1930s. The protagonist is a young woman who serves as a pack horse librarian, delivering reading material to folks living in remote areas. She has a rare congenital disease known as methemoglobinemia which causes her skin to be blue. In the story, she and other “blues”, are considered to be “colored” along with Blacks. The author states she drew her inspiration from the Fugate family and the WPA’s Pack Horse Library Project.

As I was nearing the end of the book, I thought I might send it to my granddaughter who’s almost thirteen. She’s an avid reader and this heartwarming story is infused with period details that shine a light on racism. In the last few pages, however, there’s a scene in which an ugly sheriff invokes the “N” word. No doubt, the dialogue of that period is regrettably authentic.

Here’s my dilemma. By sharing this book am I breathing life into that word? I think the author made a poor choice here. Would I implicitly be giving that language a pass on the page? Or, am I leaning toward censorship when this might be a teachable moment? I’ll admit the thought of simply removing that page before passing it on occurred to me.

Comments anyone?

One reply on “Dilemma”

I think you should share the book with her, and tell her that one of the unfortunate side effects of racism is the use of racial slurs. Tell her this book contains one, and when she finishes to please call you so you two can discuss it. An excellent opportunity to share your wisdom.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s