Welcome, fellow stalwart defenders of the oppressed! As I know many of you out there are avid readers in your leisure time, I thought I would present you with a handy guide to some of the literary classics offered within the curriculum of our schools (pardon the Americentric or perhaps Eurocentric nature of the list, as this is one of the many plights of our crumbling education system). In order to empower your decision making process, I have included a handy blurb about each work to make clear its themes, ideas, general suitability, and, of course, any potential trigger warnings (TW). This is, of course, presented through the lens of the SJ cause.
To Kill A Mockingbird:Widely regarded as an integral piece of the cultural history of Jim Crow-era South. However, it is hard to overlook that this book is, in fact, written by a whitemember of the oppressing class of the 1930s (Harper Lee), who dares to patronize the oppressed by inserting herself into our conversation on race. This book also callously toys with ideas of slut-shaming, and paints as a hero an attorney who attempts to bring blame to a sexual assault victim and who shoots small animals.
TW: Rape, racism, male-on-female violence, animal abuse, bad things happening to good people. CAN NOT RECOMMEND.
Romeo and Juliet: Perhaps the most well known from the prolific body of work from Mr. William Shakespeare. And yet this repulsive work of hate-mongering and misogyny attempts to create a sort of “Patriarchy Fantasy World” in which “Lords” rule their families, and young women would rather die than imagine a world without their male counterparts. It should come as no surprise that our heteronormative society would herald this love story as the greatest humanity has to offer: their rejection of sexual and gender fluidity is not even remotely challenged by this heterosexual relationship.
TW: Murder/suicide, male dominance, the callous indifference of an assumed deity toward our suffering. CAN NOT RECOMMEND.
The Great Gatsby: Another supposed classic of American literature, this time from the “roaring” 1920s. This book is instead a deplorable celebration of ostentatious displays of wealth and the enrichment Mr. Fitzgerald believes it brings. It also depicts violence against women as an acceptable means to an end.
TW: Domestic violence, murder, racism, the acknowledgment of our need to surrender to the total chaos of human existence. CAN NOT RECOMMEND.
The Catcher in the Rye: Upwardly mobile cis white male author narrates via upwardly mobile cis white male character. Perhaps the original #whitepeopleproblems text of any generation, minus the ironic implications. An attempt to create a sympathetic victim out of a member of the oppressing class who also frequents women forced into the sex trade.
TW: Prostitution, mental health crises, misogyny, symbolic representations of our most desperate screams met with a collective shrug. CAN NOT RECOMMEND.
Huckleberry Finn: Yet another revered classic about the 19th century American south and race relations. And yet another tired example of an upper-middle class white male feeling it ironically acceptable to casually use the “N word.” I imagine if Mr. Twain were still alive he’d attempt to inject himself into the dialogue by lecturing us on “context.” There’s simply no room for that here.
TW: Strong racism, the cruel nature of the randomness of the universe. CAN NOT RECOMMEND.
The Story of Little Black Sambo: A compelling work of children’s fiction. Suitable for all ages.
TW: N/A. RECOMMENDED.