Last March, I was invited by Christine Pearl ’11 to facilitate a book club session on my second favorite Toni Morrison novel, “Beloved.” The session was an extension of the efforts of the nonprofit organization Red Wine & Blue, whose mission is to empower and educate suburban women to fight back against book bans across the U.S. Hundreds of members attended the virtual meeting held at 8 p.m. March 22, 2022, all of them eager to hear about and share their own feelings on the majesty of Morrison’s Nobel Prize-winning masterpiece. These women set aside important obligations, sacrificing time and making space to grapple with a profound, complicated novel that centers our collective reckoning with the enduring ramifications of enslavement on the enslaved. Their enthusiasm and commitment to do this work as part of a book club makes me wonder why anyone would attempt to ban such an important work of literature. The novel is demanding of readers; we all could have shied away and claimed to have better things to do. Not one of us chose to. Proponents of book bans fail to understand a paradox that censorship creates: Attempting to restrict access to any book has the potential to set ablaze an even greater interest in it.
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