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“It’s the racial stuff”

Friday, Aug 16, 2019

* Tribune

Officials at an Illinois prison suspended an educational program for inmates, launched two internal investigations and removed 200 books from a prison library because many had “racial” content or addressed issues like diversity and inclusion, according to records obtained by the Tribune.

Danville Correctional Center officials also prohibited for use in the University of Illinois program several classic books of African American history, including “The Souls of Black Folk,” the anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the memoir of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Hundreds of pages of records released by the Illinois Department of Corrections in response to Freedom of Information Act requests paint the clearest picture yet of the origins of the dispute between IDOC and the Education Justice Project. And while the department’s public statements about the controversy emphasized that the books had not been appropriately reviewed, internal IDOC emails and other documents show that the program was swiftly suspended and the books removed after the race-related themes of the some of the content were flagged. […]

The Education Justice Project teaches seminars and for-credit courses to inmates at Danville Correctional Center, with offerings ranging from calculus to Intro to Critical Race Theory in Education, and the group has its own space and library at the prison. The program has operated at Danville for a decade, but amid growing tensions between EJP and prison officials, it was suspended for weeks and the books withheld by corrections officials for months before they were returned to the prison in June, the records show.

Go read the whole thing.

* Related…

* The Reason Why Hundreds Of Books Were Removed From An Illinois Prison Library

* ‘It’s Heartbreaking’ Authors Criticize The Removal Of 200 Books From An Illinois Prison Library

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    Governors own.


  2. - Steve - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:57 am:

    Very Maoist by attempting to erase history.


  3. - OneMan - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    At that hearing in Chicago, Jeffreys didn’t talk about why the books were removed — saying he didn’t “want to hash into” it — and attributed the dispute to a lack of “sound process” and “much-needed policy oversight.”

    Well I kind of wish they did make him “hash into it” a bit


  4. - lakeside - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    Man Blue Dog, hate to see you going after Rauner like that, considering this all happened in Dec-Jan. And is now hopefully being reversed.

    To the post - it’s always so telling when a system bans books discussing systemic oppression. This needs a full accounting and, as One Man notes, a complete hashing out.


  5. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    History is his story…and he always has cages and guns to back up his version of The Story.


  6. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    Sounds like something broke the trust between the EJP and the Warden. Wonder what that was.


  7. - ChrisB - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    LBM - Probably caught the warden in some money laundering scheme.

    /s


  8. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    Never tell captive prisoners the identity of their oppressors?


  9. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:32 am:

    ==Ginsburg said the images were not intended to incite violence or “anti-white feelings,” ==
    ==He wrote that he found “several racially motivated books,” as well as two graphic novels…and a Black Lives Matter flier==

    Confusing why republicans (and republicans pretending at being “independents”) aren’t cheering this removal by DOC - perhaps they haven’t bothered to read the story. Racial tensions are bad enough in prisons, its understandable why they’d want to remove some of this stuff.


  10. - Fav human - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    “Racial tensions are bad enough in prisons”

    Indeed. While those are appropriate for college, in a prison environment it seems a no brainer.

    It’s prison. You lose some things in there.

    One might think things related to job training, handling personal finances, etc are much better at improving the lives of the inmates.


  11. - Montrose - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    “One might think things related to job training, handling personal finances, etc are much better at improving the lives of the inmates.”

    You know what else might improve their lives? Addressing systemic racism. Providing opportunities to help folks think critical about our history and how our systems operate is just as important as how to balance your check book. No, it’s more important.

    The only thing them banning these books tells me is they realized how powerful the information in them really is.


  12. - Had enough - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    Sounds like the current trend…exclusion of anything African American….


  13. - Merica - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    In the year 2019 Uncle Tom’s Cabin was removed from a library? A bunch of people better be fired for this one.


  14. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    Racial tensions are bad enough in prisons, its understandable why they’d want to remove some of this stuff.

    Stuff?…really?…Literature is “stuff”?

    Removing books about Black History will alleviate racial “tension”…huh?…by keepin’ “them” in the “dark”?


  15. - Flapdoodle - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    What was OW’s phrase from yesterday — “No quarter for racism”

    Yeah, because you know, this stuff never happens, right? /s


  16. - JoeMaddon - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    **“Racial tensions are bad enough in prisons”**

    “Religious tensions are bad enough in prisons, we should ban the Bible.”


  17. - Rasselas - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    Stories like this make a Chicagoan more amenable to letting the Eastern Bloc go. When a majority African-American prison population is housed in downstate centers staffed by locals (94% of the staff is white) who think “African American stuff” for African American prisoners is something that should be banned, it makes you wonder what other attitudes they bring to their jobs every day.


  18. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    I came to the comments to suggest support for removing the Warden and other exempt employees involved in this series of decisions from employment and I am astonished to find some folks actually defending or supporting the decision.

    We’re talking about 200 books and the only thing those have in common seems to be black authors and being of some level of relevance to black history or the black experience.

    So, so of y’all really think it’s a good priority for a state agency to prevent black folks from reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Frederick Douglas’ biography because it stokes racial tensions?

    Aside from those being assigned readings at my junior high school, how are those books going to spark racial tension? Like, is some white supremacist going to read them and find out how terrible slavery was and stop being a white supremacist and cause problems with his prison gang? Or do some of y’all think black folks in this country don’t know about slavery having been a thing?


  19. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    ==Stuff?…really?…Literature is “stuff”?

    Removing books about Black History will alleviate racial “tension”…huh?…by keepin’ “them” in the “dark”?==

    Grow up and stop arguing like a 12 year old. This isn’t twitter. We haven’t read any of the material, so all we have to go on is the reporting. The reporting implies at least some of it promoted “anti-white violence”. Any prison would not want this in their collections, just as they wouldn’t want any literature that promotes anti-African American violence, anti-Latino violence, etc in their collections. It could be the case that the material should not have been removed and some prison bureaucrat will be fired over this, but it could also be that they had good reason to remove it and it’ll save DOC from having to spend a bunch of taxpayer money on legal fees in the future.


  20. - @misterjayem - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 5:06 pm:

    “Danville Correctional Center officials also prohibited for use in the University of Illinois program several classic books of African American history, including “The Souls of Black Folk,” the anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and the memoir of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.”

    “Grow up and stop arguing like a 12 year old. This isn’t twitter. We haven’t read any of the material, so all we have to go on is the reporting.”

    Speak for yourself - the contents of those books are no mystery to many of us.

    – MrJM


  21. - Suburban Mom - Sunday, Aug 18, 19 @ 7:55 pm:

    “Indeed. While those are appropriate for college, in a prison environment it seems a no brainer.”

    Are you effing kidding me? Have you ever taught prisoners or ex-cons? I have. I taught them philosophy, same as I taught nice suburban college students. My prisoners and ex-cons FELT Socrates, LIVED Socrates, way more than my polite suburban teenagers. They latched on to philosophy as a matter of life and death, as something that could ANSWER these questions about life and death and justice and freedom and right and wrong.

    Those prisoners NEED Frederick Douglass. They NEED Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They NEED The Souls of Black Folk. They CRAVE it. The prisoners in prison education programs are profoundly committed to MAKING SENSE of the deep questions of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, that DEFINE THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

    “Oh no! They might think too hard and realize there’s racial injustice in the system!” First of all, THEY ALREADY KNOW THAT. Secondly, GTFO with that colonialist, racist nonsense. These are people hungry for education and craving deep thinkers on these issues. I have never taught philosophy to a more invested audience. They don’t always have the elaborate, educated vocabulary of my suburban students, but BY GOD they have a LOT to say and, given space to say it, and respect for how they express it, they are PHILOSOPHERS.

    And you want to take away their books because books might help them recognize how screwed up the justice system is?

    I’m so angry I can’t really say any more words about this without running afoul of Rich’s profanity filters!


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