Dorchester Dist. 2 board votes to keep challenged book on library shelves

District officials said the book, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” has been in libraries for at least a year.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 2:48 PM EDT|Updated: May. 15, 2023 at 7:22 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester School District Two’s school board has voted to uphold an appeal for a book found in the district’s libraries, the first challenge under the district’s recently updated library materials policy.

District officials said the book, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” has been in libraries for at least a year.

“We don’t want our children to just parrot what we say,” Board Member Cynthia Powell said. “We want them to draw conclusions, and they aren’t able to do that if you only give them what you want to spoon feed them.”

District board members voted 6-1 to uphold the appeal from the district’s Citizen’s Review Committee during a called meeting Monday morning. That vote means the book will not be pulled from shelves.

Powell said the book dives into historical American figures, like George Washington, and discusses the impact they had on African Americans.

Kellie Bates was the lone board member who voted against the appeal, stating she felt that the book violated the district’s policies and state law.

“To me, the proviso doesn’t allow this ideology to be taught in our schools, and our policy specifically states that it needs to be pertinent to our curriculum and educational objectives,” Bates said, “so in evaluating those two in conjunction with each other, I felt like it didn’t meet the standards required.”

Board members had 20 days to render their decision. They said the material isn’t being taught in any classes, and it is just another book in the library’s catalog.

“Our policy is that it’s pertinent to the curriculum and instructional goals, and the proviso bans critical race theory or ideologies that follow along that,” Bates said. “My main issue is just evaluating the content of the book against the requirements of the proviso and our policy, and does it meet the requirements put forth by the two of those? I didn’t feel it did.”

Powell was one of the board members who voted in upholding the appeal and argued the book does not teach critical race theory. She also said the book instead gives facts to support the authors’ opinions on history.

“What is being said in this book that is inaccurate? If you say it’s inaccurate, show me where it’s inaccurate because I want to know,” Powell said. “If it’s political, what do you expect to gain as a result?”

She said she encourages parents to read the book with their children, so they can have a discussion with them about its contents, rather than trying to remove it.

“Before you really go out against the book, make sure you’ve really read it,” Powell said. “Research the areas you think there are inaccuracies and make sure they truly are and not your feeling and not what you heard from your great-great-great-grandfather.”

Though the book will be allowed to remain on the district’s library shelves for now, some board members said they believe it could be challenged again in the future.