Why is Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis being removed from Chicago Public Schools?
Here’s an e-mail from Chris Dignam, principal of Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, instructing removal of all copies of Persepolis from Chicago Public School libraries, classrooms, and curricula. As it states, no reason was given for this action.
Marjane Satrapi’s memoir about living in Iran during the 1970s revolution and eventually emigrating to France, and its animated film adaptation (which received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature), have faced challenges in Middle Eastern countries for obvious reasons. Challenges in the United States have been rare, but sadly not unheard of. In 2009, parents in the Northshore School District in Washington state complained about its language and a scene in which a man is urinated on after being tortured; in that case, the school board voted unanimously to keep the book and film in schools. Could Chicago have received similar complaints? Or, as some reports indicate, has there merely been some mix-up about whether the books have been paid for and by whom?
According to retired Chicago teacher Fred Klonsky, students in a journalism course in the district were the first to report the book’s removal from their class. There are also claims that students have planned a protest for today.
My opposition to all forms of censorship is assuaged by the knowledge that now every student in Chicago Public Schools is going to try to get their hands on a copy. If this is indeed a case of censorship rather than confusion over payment, I would be very surprised if it would be upheld on the school board level, but let’s just get the CBLDF on the line, just to be sure.