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A Perspective on Modern Censorship: Not Just Book Banning & Burning

Censorship has been an international action individuals have engaged in across the world. Throughout history the practice of censoring was utilized specifically to silence, conceal, remove, or alter the truth. Various countries still continue to use this method within the internet, literature, and through citizens. Washington Post’s opinion article named “The new censors won’t delete your own words they’ll drown them out” written by columnist Anne Applebaum made a statement on the new sensors in modern day. “The opponents of free speech can drown out ideas and language they don’t like by using robotic tools, fake accounts, or teams of real people operating multiple accounts.” (Anne Applebaum) Individuals often see censorship on social media when presenting facts and discussions on current social issues the world attempts to obscure. The popularized video-sharing network TikTok has been one of these perpetrators of censorship. Youthful individuals have used the network to speak on the injustices taking place across the globe and in consequence they receive suspensions and bans for vocalizing inequality. Silence = Violence, a notorious phrase found in protest has exhibited the suppression of speech globally.

This week BV Newsroom did an examination on the censorship at Bella Vista High School. During this inspection there have been various statements from students on the curriculum at Bella Vista. Upperclassman stated that their history teaches discussed the in depth history of the U.S. such as slavery, racism and oppression of various races, treatment of immigrants and Native Americans, colonization, as well as the War on Drugs and our past presidents that owned slaves and offenders of prejudices and racism. However, another student stated that the majority of their lessons were whitewashed and biased. When asking freshman Jordyn Buhs the topic of the English curriculum's diversity at BV she stated “Well the thing is that they’re trying to make us read classic books, okay so, I mean they could show us classics books that we are represented in, instead of just having classic books where we are used but derogatorily like for example, Of Mice and Men we are used, we are represented in this book, sure, but we're not really represented. It’s from two males that are white. There’s only one black character and only one woman character. The black character, people think of him rudely and they call him the n-word with the hard 'er' at the end which is not okay.”

Alani Summers also stated similar views when prompted on the modification of Bella Vista’s curriculum and the significance of representation in schools, “Everybody should feel represented, and I just think that it’s important for people to not feel alone like if you only ever get one side of history growing up that’s just a little bit damaging in a way. I don’t think we totally have to like do away with all of the classics because some of them are important but I think there should definitely be some more modern influences in our English classes. We need to learn more about Indigenous people and how much they've struggled and just how much they’ve been oppressed because we don’t even learn about that side of history and we need to.”

Another individual that expressed the matter of lack of representation in mainstream society and censorship in history was freshman Alondra Gonzalez Orozco. “We probably went to the store and were looking for a barbie or something and we were looking for one that looked like us. There wasn’t one that was brown with thick black hair, you know another one who’s black with like curly hair. I just wish it would be taught in school like our lives because it feels like they’re getting taught about their own lives which they already know about their own lives. They already know what’s going on and I just wish they would try to teach about ours because it’s very different. It is very different, extremely different. I just wish they would include the bad and mostly racist stuff a lot of the presidents did and stop trying to hide to print them out as heroes and adding on to what they did to the Native Americans because that was brutal. I just wish they would stop acting like Black people didn’t built like America. They built America. White people just watched them do it.’’

Freshman James Martinez voiced his opinion on censorship in social media about when people are suspended or banned for raising awarenesses on international injustices. “I feel like it is wrong when they get the bans because they should be able to speak; everyone has the ability of freedom of speech, so I think it’s wrong that they are getting banned or flagged.” Another student that communicated their feelings on the lack of representation in the schools courses and censorship of history and what should be discussed in our curriculum. “I think that representation matters because it’s important to make people know that they belong. You know how like most stuff, let’s say like in English classes: you know most stories are about white people, and imagine just being not represented all; you’re learning about is more people that are different from you. How would those people feel? I think about how the Native Americans were basically, it was their own land and they colonized it and I wanna see more about that stuff. I’ve seen this in an article most monuments or buildings built before, I've seen an article it was mostly built by African Americans, like slaves and free and it’s just upsetting how like white people try to take credit with everything when really people of color mostly did the work.”

Should our curriculum be altered to include more diversity, as a result of White supremacy being immensely immersed in society do our places of learning necessitate present time, perceptions, and literature? Censorship of history and literature has never halted in current times. Throughout history, the founding fathers are still reverenced while their bigotry is dismissed. Columbus day remains a national holiday although Christopher Columbus was responsible for the enslavement of Native Americans. In the U.S., book banning is still implemented. Novels consisting of concepts opposing the status quo are often the ones to be challenged at centers of learning. Up to present time, the erasure of the massacre and colonization of Indigenous people, anti-Blackness, and secretion of truth prevails.

Censorship's former times may seem more extreme to the common eye than in modern day. However, government censorship is thriving worldwide in daily life. Intercontinental governments contain strict principles mainly within news outlets and journalism. In print freedom of speech appears to be for all yet in physical existence only the privileged can afford the right.

Today’s generation continues to question the old-fashioned societal norms in terms of gender, race, body positivity, and declares for the liberty to speak on truth. Activist, political leader, and minister Malcolm X, once stated “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” (Malcolm X) The students are our future. The lessons and wisdom given aids to the production of tomorrow. If censorship is not only the oppression of speech but the oppression of the truth, why is it universally practiced to this day? Simply in view of the fact that censorship is an act out of fear of the power of the people.

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