Florida Parents Want to Ban ‘Ruby Bridges’ Movie From Schools
Parents In florida The Pinellas School District is apparently unworthy on the screening of Disney’s “Ruby Bridges,” a film that depicts the true story of a 6-year-old’s courageous and historic 1960s integration into a predominantly white elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The film, a staple of the district’s school curriculum for the past decade, is now at the center of controversy thanks to two groups of parents who have filed complaints with the school district. They reportedly called for the film to be removed from the Black History Month lesson plan, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The reasoning behind this irrational censorship attempt: Emily Conklin, parent of one of the children, claimed the film could teach second graders that “white people hate black people”. Conklin pointed out racial slurs in the film, reports the Guardian, including a scene where the actors shout, “I’m going to hang you!” to the character of Ruby.
Sigh. Where do we even start here? The heaviest irony of this argument is that this film provides students of all ages with the context and language to discuss something most of them already know: racial hatred exists, and it is wrong. As a black person, no matter how old you are, you are not protected, nor can you opt out. Children aren’t stupid and, needless to say, teachers don’t show this film without discussing the implications.
But ignorance wins more than it should. Despite the refusal of organizations aimed at protecting black students, the district administration responded by banning the film from North Shore Elementary School “until a review board could evaluate it”, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Unfortunately, the painful reality is that the more we shove documentation of this country’s racism under the rug, the easier it is for some people to deny its existence.
Removing an educational tool like this film from the school curriculum is a form of erasure. It stifles an opportunity to discuss the truth about anti-Blackness. It also eliminates the opportunity for children of other races to understand how they experience and benefit daily from systemic racism, protecting them from understanding their role in perpetuating (or stopping) racist violence.
It’s the latest move in the culture war by Republican lawmakers in the state, where books about LGBTQ+ issues and race have been banned, like Rosa Park’s biography.
As a nation, we can no longer afford to feed this false notion of “protection” because even our understanding of protection is rooted in inflicting harm on black people. Those who truly understand the scope of systemic racism know that as long as we avoid these conversations, no one is safe. The best we can do is be honest with ourselves so we can be honest with our children.