Cody schools deny request to ban ‘The Color Purple’

CODY — The Cody School District’s Educational Resource Complaint Committee voted unanimously to keep two books in its libraries that were up for discussion at a packed meeting last Thursday.

Cody resident Carol Armstrong filed a complaint to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Color Purple.”

Fellow Cody resident Jim Vetter filed an eight-page complaint asking the committee to ban “How to be an Antiracist” by author and historian Ibram X. Kendi.

That book touches on the topic of racism and ways to avoid taking racist actions, as well as other suggestions about how to make changes when it comes to race relations and inequality.

Armstrong described “The Color Purple” as “vulgar” and referred to the novel as “porn” due to parts of the book dealing with incest and rape.

Many in the crowd of about 50 citizens wore purple in apparent support of keeping the novel in circulation.

“Is it any wonder that there is a rise in disturbed and confused youth in our schools because of gender ideology and messages that are being sent to our young, impressionable kids?” Armstrong asked.

District Librarian Jennison Lucas provided the committee with a number of reasons why the novel should be available to students, and said the context of the material in the novel should be taken into account.

She also cited numerous sources who have deemed the book appropriate for teenagers.

“This issue has already been taken to the Supreme Court,” committee member Yancy Bonner said. “This is a freedom of speech issue and it has been determined that students have the right to have access to books like this.”

After some discussion, the nine-person committee voted unanimously not to ban “The Color Purple.”

Vetter’s objection to “How to be an Antiracist” seemed to dwell on a number of issues, particularly Critical Race Theory, CHS social studies teacher and committee member Stefany Anderson said.

Vetter, however, was a no-show at the meeting and didn’t provide the committee with any additional information about his complaint.

The complaint itself appeared to cover only the first 33 pages of a 240 page book.

Lucas said the library already has a number of books available with a conservative point of view and students should be able to see both sides of the issues of race and inequality.

After some discussion, the committee voted 9-0 to keep the book from becoming banned.

Both Armstrong and Vetter have the option of appealing the decisions.

Parents concerned about the kind of material being checked out of the libraries by their children have the option to be notified by email of everything they check out.

This year parents were automatically notified and could chose to opt out.

Next year, parents are encouraged to opt in if they would like to receive notifications.