Mount Pleasant, SC – A local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is objecting to two books that schools have put on students’ reading list that it says indoctrinates students to distrust police.
The Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge No. 3 noted that the books “The Hate U Give” and “All American Boys” were assigned to students to be read, according to The Guardian.
“The Hate U Give” is a 2017 adult novel written by Angie Thomas. It follows a woman who witnesses the police shooting of her friend, who was unarmed. In the book the police officer mistakes the victim’s hairbrush for a gun.
A 2017 review of “The Hate U Give” by The Guardian states, “Finally, the 16-year-old evolves into a radicalised young black woman, keenly aware of the injustice of a system that regards the lives of poor black people as worth less than the white officers who appear to shoot them with impunity.”
“All American Boys” is a 2016 novel written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. It is about a teenage boy who tries to overcome his distrust of police after he is wrongly accused of shoplifting and beaten by a police officer.
Brendan Kiely’s website gives a summary of the book in which it states that the country is “still deeply sick with racial injustice.”
Wando High School’s ninth-grade class was asked to read those novels as well as six other books over the summer holiday. Students have to read just one book of those assigned over the break.
“As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators, we came together to cowrite a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for talking about these difficult but absolutely vital conversations,” said Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, according to Brendan Kiely’s website.
The police union said the books generated numerous complaints.
“Whether it be through social media, whether it be through text message, whether it be phone calls, we’ve received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list,” said John Blackmon, president of the police union, according to WCBD-TV. Blackmon said he has received hundreds of messages from concerned people over the reading list.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal,” Blackmon said, according to WCBD. “They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that. There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me.”
The Charleston County School District said they were aware that the two books were considered controversial “by some members of our community,” according to WCBD.
The district said a request to pull the books from the reading list was submitted.
Once the district’s chief academic officer receives the complaint, a committee will hear from the person who filed the complaint, the teacher who assigned the books to be read and any experts on the subject.
The committee will give the superintendent a recommendation within 30 days, according to WCBD. The superintendent then would accept or reject the recommendation. An appeal can also be made to the Board of Trustees, who have the final say.