I have never seemed to connect with poetry as a form of writing. In conversations with people, they often told me of a poem that impacted their life and how it conveyed significant meaning or comforted them after experiencing a critical emotional event. I tried to embrace the feelings people relayed. I made sporadic attempts at reading poetry, but the harder I tried, the more elusive it became. That changed with Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb she read at Biden’s inauguration. My resistance toward poetry was starting to crack.
Amanda’s words were a source of comfort for me, having just witnessed what transpired on January 6th, where a mob of Trump insurrection supporters carried out acts of sedition because they believed the lies Trump and his co-conspirators about the election. Her poem was instrumental in cracking the barrier I erected around this form of the written word.
The Hill We Climb was inspirational to many but not to Daily Salinis, who banned the book using DeSantis’s dumbass law, which allows just one person to register a complaint and get a book banned. Under this law, children in elementary school are denied the opportunity to read a great poet who might be an inspiration to them. In her perceived wisdom, Salinis deemed Gorman’s book unsuitable for elementary students. She wrote the following on the form she had to fill out to get the book banned: Is not educational and has indirect hate messages.
Reading what Ms. Salinis wrote, I thought of the following passage from Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451,
“his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning t bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history”
I have no doubt Ms. Salinis thinks of herself as a female version of Guy Montag who would love to burn down all the libraries in Flordia to ensure no books violate her code of what she deems appropriate.
In her self-appointed Guy Montag role, she cited pages 12–13 as her justification for banning the book, which piqued my curiosity. So as I reviewed the poem on my Kindle, I went to the pages she claimed indirectly promoted hate. Unfortunately, I noticed a problem. What should be page 12 is actually page 13, but I see that as a technical glitch and will know for sure when I receive the hard copy I ordered.
But to satisfy my curiosity, I printed out a hard copy. I checked the hard copy with my Kindle copy and found no differences, which confirmed my suspicion of a glitch with the page numbering of the Kindle version of the poem. So here is what Ms. Salinis is citing as justification for having the book banned:
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time Where a skinny Black girl, Descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, Can dream of becoming president, Only to find herself reciting for one.
What could Ms. Salinis possibly see in these words that remotely suggest “hate messages,” let alone indicate this poem is not “educational?” How is this poem not suitable for school and causes confusion?
It’s obvious what rankles Ms. Salinis; she is an illiterate troglodyte who couldn’t handle seeing a young Black female reciting a poem of hope for this country. Nothing in Amanda’s poem remotely suggests what she claims justifies having this book banned. She is an opportunist taking advantage of the dumbass laws DeSantis pushed through his State Legislature to make Florida an autocratic state.
This is a woman who publishes antisemitic posts and has affiliated herself with the Proud Boys, and fully supports restrictions she stupidly believes will only impact “libs” because what’s left her brain has been eaten by rightwing Neanderthals who believe banning books is how they preserve democracy. Not knowing what she is promoting and advocating for will be of no benefit to her or her family because when the goose-stepping new-age Nazis take control, she and all her loved ones will be among the first to go.
People like Daily Salanis should spend some time reading books instead of banning them. They might learn something, such as autocracy is not freedom. Representative democracy, with all its faults, is by far better than all the other governing forms. And whiteness doesn’t equate to rightness. Advancement comes from a combined effort and desire to improve the condition of the citizens of the country you live in. Engaging in racist rants and beliefs is counterproductive.
Salanis and others of her ilk subscribe to the notion their children are being groomed, programmed, or having Vulcan mind-melds performed on them are batshit crazy. Teachers are trying to do what they were trained to do in college: educate, not indoctrinate. Countries that sanitize their history are countries you don’t want to live in. The reality of this country is it was built on the backs of enslaved individuals. Ron DeSantis, Glenn Youngkin, and other Republicans can attempt to rewrite this country’s history but will fail. Our history of chattel slavery is enshrined in our most sacred document, the United States Constitution.
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other Persons.”
The country went to war over this barbaric practice and tried to hold onto this vile practice with Jim Crow laws and segregation. But the will of those subjugated to the brutality of enslavement would not be quashed, and they rose above it and have been instrumental in the many successes this country has accomplished.
Amanda Gorman wrote the following in her poem:
To compose a country committed
To all cultures, colors, characters,
And conditions of man,
And so we lift our gazes not,
To what stands, Between us,
But what stands before us,
We close the divide,
Because we know to put
Our future first, we must first
Put our differences aside,
A part of me desires to believe that had Ms. Salinis read those words and taken them to heart, she wouldn’t have filed the complaint to ban the poem. But I’ve been around long enough to understand some people are so far down the crevice of hate and denial there is nothing one can say or do to pull them back from the cesspool they have dived into.
This is where they want to be, so be it. Because if they do not want to be part of helping to repair our country. A pox on them and their household for a time immemorial.