Nova Scotia

Author doesn't support book ban

A Nova Scotian-born author says the debate over books taught in this province shows the need for a discussion on what should be taught, and who makes decisions about what's in the curriculum.

A Nova Scotian-born author says the debate over books taught in this province shows the need for a discussion on what should be taught, and who makes decisions about what's in the curriculum.

George Elliott Clarke says he would not ban the novels that some other African Canadians find offensive. Clarke says these books should be taught, together, with works by African-American writers.

"I also read To Kill a Mockingbird," he said. "It didn't destroy me in any way, shape or form when I was a high school student. But, I have to point out that I did lots of additional reading in the history of race and so forth. Particularly a lot of African American materials. And quite frankly I wonder if Toni Morrison might be a better author to use in the classroom context than Harper Lee."

Lee's book is one of three being discussed Tuesday by members of the Tri-County school board's education committee, in Southwestern Nova Scotia.

But Clarke points out, there is a larger issue.

"Black parents have every right to raise questions about these materials and to perhaps propose other materials that may be better in terms of addressing the question at hand," he said, "which is that of racism, once again. I come back to the larger issues here which have to do with 'who gets to decide curricula anyway.'"

There have been complaints the books To Kill a Mockingbird, In the Heat of the Night and Underground to Canada contain the racial slur that uses the N-word.

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