As a woman of mixed race background, I am coming to terms with the fact that I am learning at 40 years old what it means to be black. As such, these kinds of discussions highlight for me just how “white” I am and so I preface my comment and questions with knowledge of my own ignorance — not out of a place of disrespect or to challenge you.
I completely hear and understand your point and your reasons for not wanting to teach this book. I think it took courage to make the decision, not knowing how it would be received.
This resonates with me: “The pain in this narrative didn’t deserve possibly being reduced to intellectual debates and scrutiny.” Do you feel the same about teaching other works of historical fiction (say, on the topic of the Holocaust)? Would you feel the same if this story had been a memoir? I am not asking you to defend your decision by any means.
I ask because I would like to know if there is a book on the topic of police brutality that is worth sharing in the white classroom without diminishing the narrative. It is a narrative that needs to be heard, especially among the white communities I have grown up in and around.
How do we share the harsh realities of how lethal it is to be born black in this country if we don’t share the stories? Is there a better way for white people to know and empathize with the black struggle? How can we seek allies if we can’t teach understanding of what it means to be black? (I am half black and I struggle with this, as mentioned.) Maybe my questions are somewhat rhetorical, but I think it’s different when our stories are appropriated and white washed (e.g. The Green Book), rather than those told by our own. What are your thoughts on this?