Hello everyone and welcome to the second day of Banned Books Week 2022!
Today I’ll be talking about The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. The House On Mango Street is a story following our young protagonist, Esperanza Cordero, and her experiences as a Chicana in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago over the course of one year. The book is based on Cisneros own experiences as she entered adolescence and began facing the realities of life as a young woman in a poor and patriarchal community. It shines light on elements of the Mexican-American culture, along with incorporating themes of social class, race, sexuality, identity, and gender.
So, why was The House On Mango Street banned?
In short (according to Enotes.com), it’s because of the books depiction of domestic violence, racism, and suicide, which school boards deemed as inappropriate for middle school audiences.
Based on my recent reading of it, I don’t see how the depiction of these topics in the novel is inappropriate for students between the ages of 11-13, especially for 13-year-olds. The story doesn’t go into graphic detail about these issues, and they are important topics to start discussing with kids. Books can be a great way to bridge the gap and start these conversations with students, and The House On Mango Street is a great book to do so.
However, obviously many schools and school boards disagree with me, with the most significant case being in the state of Arizona in 2010. With Arizona House Bill 2281, more than 80 books were banned from Arizona school curriculums, including The House On Mango Street. According to the Intellectual Freedom Blog:
The law was aimed at dismantling or undermining programs that taught Mexican-American cultural studies, and prohibited courses that “promote the overthrow of the government.” In other words, studying the Mexican-American experience was framed as un-American.Office of Intellectual Freedom (Intellectual Freedom Blog)
Luckily, the ban was overturned in 2017. Before the ban was overturned though, the Librotraficante Project, headed by teachers, authors, and activists, came about in 2012 as a protest against this Arizona House Bill. The protest was in the form of a traveling caravan, which Cisneros participated in, reading out passages from her book as the group made their way from the Alamo to Tucson. She also ran workshops, distributed copies of her book, and discussed The House On Mango Street‘s themes and their importance.
One of the most important takeaways from the overturning of the Arizona House Bill is the reminder that we have the power to fight back. Especially right now, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, climate change issues, anti-trans rhetoric and laws, racism (especially for Black and Asian Americans) along everything else, it can be overwhelming and difficult to think that things can get better. Yet, even though the Librotraficante Project happened in 2012 and it took seven years since the bill was put into place, the House Bill was overturned. The people fought and continued fighting until they were heard. And that’s what we need to keep doing. We need to keep talking about these issues, protesting in anyway we can, and just keep fighting for things to change. For things to get better.
I hope you all enjoyed this post, and make sure to stay tuned for tomorrow’s Banned Books Week blog!
In the meantime, check out these sources for The House On Mango Street Book Banning:
Other than that, I will see you in the next post!
If interested, you can donate to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom