See The California Governor Pose With Banned Books

See the Democratic governor of California make his stance on banned books known through one of his most recent tweets.

By Erika Hanson | Published

Pediatricians Say Children With Head Lice Should Remain In School

banned books

Everyone knows that in today’s world if you want to stir the pot, you head to Twitter. Lawmakers and government officials seem to love using social media platforms to get their points through. And that’s exactly what the Democratic governor of Florida did the other night, making his stance known about the recent uptick of banned books inside schools. 

See the Tweet below.

On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom took to Twitter to share a photograph of himself stoically posed sitting at a table scattered with books. The 40th governor of California posed for the photo reading one of those books, which all happen to be on various banned book lists in schools throughout the country. Newsom captioned the photograph saying, “Reading some banned books to figure out what these states are so afraid of.” 

The 54-year-old governor was alluding to renewed efforts to rid schools of controversial books amid a large cultural debate that has not been as heated as it is now in decades. And of the books seen on the governor’s table, every single one has been wildly challenged this year. To understand the controversy behind these banned books, we will dive into where and why they are all being challenged.

First up is the book that Governor Newsom appears to be reading. Beloved, the 1987 novel by the late Nobel Peace Price author Toni Morrison, is a popular novel studied in high schools. Set during the civil war era, the story follows an enslaved female in Kentucky who flees the state for the free state of Ohio in 1856. Not only does the story vividly portray the atrocities of slavery, but some of its passages are quite violent and sexually explicit. The book has been randomly challenged throughout the years, but the movement to add it to the banned book list was reignited during the recent Virginia Governors race when Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin ran an ad campaign featuring an upset parent speaking against the book being taught in Virginia schools. 

The next book, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, may just be one of the best-known books to be taught inside high school classrooms. Since 1960, the story about racial injustice and childhood innocence has won countless awards and recognition. Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, the story follows a young girl living with her older brother and father, a lawyer who is caught in the middle of a large controversy for representing a Black man accused of rape. Already banned in many classrooms across the nation, the book has seen an uptick in school bans as school districts say the language is too embarrassing and offensive for classroom discussions.

George Orwell’s 1984 was also on Newsom’s table. The futuristic dystopian novel was published in 1949 and has been controversial for decades. Politically driven, the book deals with communism, totalitarianism, and the effects of a repressive government. It also contains some sexually explicit passages. Because of its themes, the book has been at the center of banned books discussion for years. In 1981, the book gained national attention after a Florida country banned the book saying it was pro-communism propaganda. The book was mentioned as part of a push from Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbot who backed up outcries from parents asking him to push for more book bans. 

At the bottom of the pile of books on the governor’s table was Maus. Written by Art Spiegelman, the book picked up traction just a few short months ago after a Tennessee school board added the graphic novel to its list of banned books. Calling the story about the Holocaust “completely unnecessary,” the school board prohibited teachers from using the story in their curriculum citing the profanity and nudity within its passages as their reasoning. Moreso, the book’s mention of violence and suicide furthered their push to remove the book from schools.

This isn’t the first time Governor Newsom has brought up banned books in his short time in office. In his State of the State address earlier this month, he brought the heated topic up when discussing education reform. “And I’m not talking about that version of education reform being promoted in some states, where they’re banning — quite literally, you can’t make this up, they’re banning books. Where you can sue your history teacher for teaching history and where you can’t say even the word ‘gay,’ “he said. One thing is for sure, you won’t see this Governor backing up parents that wish to see more books added anytime soon.