Some English teachers blue after removal of ‘The Bluest Eye’


Ruthi Ebbinghaus

The Greeley West library is home to thousands of books, but you won’t find Toni Morrison there these days as its content is under review by District 6.

Ruthi Ebbinghaus, Staff Writer

Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and renowned author Toni Morrison made the news in Greeley, CO this week when her book, The Bluest Eye was discussed at a school board meeting Monday night.

A citizen spoke during the public comment section of the meeting and chose to read passages from the book that she felt were inappropriate for students to have access to.

District 6 responded that the book had already been pulled from shelves and that it was accidentally still in the Greeley Central library.  At Greeley West, the book is still a part of the catalog but is not available for student checkout.

Although controversial, many staff members within Greeley West believed that the book’s removal was unfortunate. Long time English teacher Mr. Colin Shaha is one of those teachers. He said, “I was saddened, although I cannot say I was surprised.”

The removal of Toni Morrison books throughout District 6 is part of a greater movement by partisan groups across the country. A list is circulating online created by the Florida Citizens Alliance, full of books that the organization deems inappropriate.

The Bluest Eye has been included on the list because of “sexually explicit material,” as well as graphic depictions and disturbing language. The book has also been said to have an “underlying socialist and communist agenda.”

English teacher Ms. Kathrine Brown said that she understood the book was a, “contentious item.”

Having the book pulled is, “sad and disappointing as students can be stripped of viewpoints they may not have otherwise gotten,” added Brown.

Shaha agreed on the importance of students taking in many viewpoints. “Taking books away from students is taking a voice away from a student. No books should be taken away from students, because every time a book is taken away, so is a voice,” Shaha said.

Greeley West librarian Ms. Susan Eastin, when asked about the topic, chose to simply reply with “no comment.”

Greeley West was directly affected by this decision, but so were other schools in District 6 such as Greeley Central, as well as University High School.

Brown also stated that communication is key between the education system and families. “I think it depends on the grade level, the communication we have going home and the parental support we have with that,” Brown said. “It’s a very tricky thing about how to handle tough topics.”

Assistant Principal Ms. Amy Zulauf, once an English teacher at Northridge herself, focused less on the effects of losing the book, and rather on how and why it was taken off shelves in the first place. Zulauf referred to the manner with which the conversation took place at the board meeting. “This could’ve been held in a more civil manner where adults chose to be more mature,” Zulauf said.

Regarding the kerfuffle, Zulauf added, “It’s definitely disappointing that a civil conversation couldn’t have taken place and viewpoints couldn’t have been shared in a respectful manner.”