Time to Wake Up and Sense the Censorship

The first time I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was in seventh grade, and the story of the “fireman” Guy Montag immersed me completely. If you haven’t read the book, the protagonist, Guy Montag, is a fireman in a world in which firemen burn books in a dystopian, brainwashed city. Such drastic censorship was an interesting concept, but the idea that our world would someday mirror Bradbury’s never occurred to me. However, taking a long, hard look at our world today, whether we like it or not, our government encourages censorship and suppression, and we are slowly but surely shifting to a Fahrenheit 451 reality. This will ultimately end in the violation of our freedom of speech, and consequently, a stagnation of change due to the deprivation of important information. 

Currently, in terms of education, censorship is a problem in most American schools and libraries. Take banned books. For children who are still at a stage where their minds are very influential, books are one of the main ways to take in the world around them. It gives them a chance to explore real world problems through the eyes of a character and form their own opinions. Although I agree that certain books may include inappropriate or mature language for younger audiences, a multitude of books are banned because of their topics. One example would be The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The book highlights the journey of a Black girl named Starr after witnessing her friend die after being shot by police. The book expertly explores topics including racism and police brutality and demonstrates how society uses stereotypes to justify violence towards Black people, which is an important message to get across to young audiences. It also shows the human side of racial injustice, which makes the message of the book come across more effectively. While school boards and parents often say that The Hate U Give is banned because of explicit language, this may not be entirely true –– after all, according to PEN America, 40 percent of banned books have protagonists or characters who are Black or BIPOC. This includes The Hate U Give, which is only one banned book among the vast array of texts that share important information and narratives. Funnily enough, Fahrenheit 451 was also ironically banned in many schools for its supposed graphic content. 

 Additionally, there are many crucial subjects which are starting to be banned as well. For example, Critical Race Theory (CRT) states that U.S. institutions, including the education system, have racism embedded in their laws, regulations, and structures. Teaching this theory is vital to recognizing racism in all its pervasive forms today and fighting to eradicate it. Acknowledging the problem, especially in classrooms, is the first step to solving it. 

 According to The New York Times, around 24 states have passed legislation in order to ban CRT from classrooms, preventing children of grades K-12 from growing familiar with CRT. CRT is a meaningful way to express that America’s racist history continues to affect America’s present. Legislators are afraid to acknowledge that. They claim that CRT shames white students and evokes guilt in them. Additionally, they call CRT divisive and accusatory. This expands on the idea that if speech upsets people, it should be prohibited. It’s shocking that CRT is being banned, and nothing extremely impactful has been done to speak up against it. With this ban, students’ knowledge and awareness of racism in the United States of America will be greatly diminished. 

This censorship that the government and private organizations are feeding us won’t end unless we take action now, and it’s not too late. We have to wake up and realize what’s happening with the world around us and work against these influential efforts. Our country’s organizations and officials are focusing their attention on censorship, and if we don’t change tracks soon, our future is going to start to resemble the crumbling dystopia that Bradbury pictured.