Art, in it’s purest form, is a reflection of the life that is birthed into.
By nature, most artists are very sensitive about the works they create, because those pieces are normally extensions of the soul. Like a mother is protective of her child, so is an artist of his/her work. For that reason, the recent decision of an Alabama based publisher, New South Books, to remove the N-word from a new edition of Huckleberry Finn has baffled me.
Not only is Finn a literary classic, Mark Twain’s story details a very important piece of American history that simply can not be erased. As a writer, I know that the words Twain chose were deliberate. Words are the tools that an artist uses to convey a feeling. The word “nigger” was chosen to indicate the climate of the time period. It was harsh. Much worse than what can be conveyed through the use of the proposed replacement word “slave.” Sometimes, in order for people to truly come to terms with a situation, they have to find themselves in a place that may be uncomfortable. The truth is often a hard pill to swallow.
Arguments for the change stem from school officials who are concerned that the language may be too offensive to allow the book to be presented in classrooms. This is the same story that has been taught in classrooms across the country for decades. What makes now different?
Dumbing down the book would do more harm than good. Children understanding the plight of slaves, Native Americans or the pain of the Holocaust is one of the keys to tolerance. Haven’t you found that the more you get to know someone’s story, the more you can sympathize and understand them for who they are today? The same theory applies with general populations and other cultural groups. If we’re honest, children are exposed to profanity and racial slurs on a daily basis thanks in part to cable television, radio and the internet.
I believe this tweet sums it all up:
So, what do you think?