Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” has come under fire yet again.
This time, the board of education president in Morrison’s home state is criticizing the inclusion of the book on the Common Core Standard’s recommended reading list for 11th-graders, labeling the controversial work “pornographic.” And, if Ohio schools leader Debe Terhar has her way, the 1970 novel will be banned from the classroom.
However, Terhar’s denouncement of the book has sparked some backlash — from Morrison herself.
Speaking to WCMH NBC 4, the author addressed the book’s controversial nature, noting that it has previously been banned by many places. Yet, it seems, she is taking Terhar’s remarks personally.
“I resent it,” Morrison told the local TV station. “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 is the latest to speak out against “The Bluest Eye,” which has previously been banned from a number of school libraries for its depictions of rape, incest and pedophilia. The Ohio schools chief is taking particular issue with the scene in which the novel’s main character is raped by her father, commenting that the passage is not suitable for school-age children.
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Terhar, challenging her seemingly personal opinion that Morrison’s novel is “pornographic.” Instead of banning the book, the advocacy organization suggested that Ohio schools “use controversial literature as an opportunity to improve students’ critical thinking skills and to create open dialogue between students and the community.”
In August, Alabama State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) also called for his state to bar students from reading the book, taking issue with the work’s language and content.