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  • Deah Curry PhD

If You Aren't Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention

Amanda Gorman's uplifting inaugural poem The Hill We Climb was banned in a Florida school library recently (May 2023) from being available to grade school children. Really?

Yes, really. All it took was just one parent to malign it as being "indirectly about hate", "not educational". The complaint said the poem causes confusion and indoctrinates children.

Clearly that parent herself failed any class she may have had in writing and reading poetry. Obviously there was another agenda at work here. Undoubtedly the indoctrination going on in that person's mind is the brainwashing of the people who want to deny history, hide truth, and engage in distorting definitions by making being "woke" a bad thing.

Ms. Gorman's masterful message, when read by any literate person, is about hope and purpose, about bringing people together, overcoming differences and challenges. It's about not bowing to intimidation. It forgivingly declares -- a mere two weeks after the January 6 insurrection -- that our country isn't broken, just unfinished in its quest for justice, mercy, and commitment to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of humanity.

How can this be age inappropriate? How could this message possibly offend the same heart that says it loves America and the constitution on which it stands, one nation with liberty and justice for all?

After a flood of backlash, the school says the poem was not banned, just recategorized for an older age group. They are only trying to save face, and probably school bond and donation money. But we see them. We see how this school, and others, and the government of Florida itself have all betrayed the word and the spirit of the first amendment they think gives only their myopically toxic perspective protection against censorship.

To add ignorance to stupidity, as if those aren't the same thing in Florida politics these days, the complaint named Oprah Winfrey as the author of The Hill We Climb. Oprah wrote the forward to book that has been published of this poem, but she is not the poet. Was this an intentional slap to the first National Youth Poet Laureate, and youngest person ever to have the honor of reciting at an inauguration? Was it some backhanded clumsy way to degrade Oprah? Or was it, as some have suggested, just another culture war aggression against these two black women simply for having the audacity to be black?

This is what we get when we don't pay attention to who is running for office. This is what happens when we don't fully and independently research who we are voting for, but instead let fear-mongers, fascist leaning, conspiracy-sucking wannabe dictators get in power. This is the shade of the beast that feeds on the carrion of the dying noble experiment that once was admired as the city on a hill.


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