'BUCK' BATTLE | Book in a Baltimore high school draws controversy
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A teacher's book pick is pulled from a Baltimore city high school classroom.
Critics call the book brilliant and always engaging. But some parents believe some students are too young for what's inside the paperback.
The book, "Buck," is by MK Asante. It plays out the powerful event of his childhood on the mean streets of Philadelphia.
Asante, a one-time drug dealer, is now a nationally recognized author, filmmaker and professor at Morgan State University. Now, there's controversy over "Buck" in the classroom.
Don't ask Sandy Dawson, a mother and adult, to read four particular pages from this book.
"I'm not comfortable reading it out loud to you, a man I don't know," said Dawson.
But Liz Rinehart, another parent, reads through the chapter with ease. She read the following passage out loud to FOX45: "He's smoking a black and mild. He blows the p---- candles out, lights out. And then he puts the mouthpiece of a cigar in her p----."
Asante's engaging memoir is a coming-of-age story with descriptive, sexual language so vivid that FOX45 would be fined if the above passage was read on the air.
But at Digital Harbor High School in south Baltimore, an English teacher thought the critically-acclaimed book would be a good read for a ninth grade class - an assignment for students as young as 14 years old.
"I don't think the language is appropriate," said Dawson.
Dawson's daughter is in 10th grade. Still, she's a parent who's outraged over the assignment.
"A child is not allowed to go to a rated-R movie. Why should they be able to read a passage that has, maybe, rated X language and actions in it?" said Dawson.
But Rinehart is a mother defending the book.
"Good literature is often disturbing, and it's particularly disturbing when it's cutting edge, when it's talking about things society is willing to talk about right now, but that's when literature is most valuable," said Rinehart.
"I think the teacher should have sent a letter home first to parents to give permission," said Dawson.
Baltimore City School officials have released a statement. According to spokeswoman Edie House, "the book 'Buck' is not an approved part of the curriculum and will be replaced with a different approved text."