Memoir of childhood in apartheid era banned in California school

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BUIRLINGHAME, Calif. -- An award-winning memoir about growing up poor and black in apartheid-era South Africa was banned from an intermediate school after a parent complained about a two-paragraph scene of men paying hungry boys for sex.

Superintendent Sonny Da Marto ordered an 8th grade teacher to stop using"Kaffir Boy" [by Mark Mathabane, published in 1986] in her English classes even though a literature review committee composed of parents, teachers, a librarian, a student and a school board member approved the book...

Da Marto told the Burlingame school board he would allow an abridged version of Kaffir Boy to be taught, but that the paragraphs depicting child prostitution were inappropriate for 13- and 14-year-olds. The school board refused to reverse his decision...

The American Library Association included the Kaffir Boy on its list of"Outstanding Books for the College Bound." The child rape scene also gave the memoir the No. 31 spot on the association's list of the 100 most frequently banned or challenged books.

Related Links

  • Author's statement,"If you assign my book, don't censor it" (Washington Post, 1999)
  • ALA's Challenged and Banned Books webpage

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