Bizarro is brought to you today by The N Word.
The first time I read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," it was at the behest of a cranky and unforgiving woman named Amanda Benchwhite, my tenth grade English teacher. There was some controversy at the time about this book being used in public schools because of the recurrence of a little thing we now call the "N-word."
But as much as I disliked this particular teacher, she did manage to use this book as a terrific discussion tool about the history of racism in the U.S. This was particularly challenging because our class was roughly half black and half white, so there was no shortage of disparate opinions and potential for conflict. And yet, we came through with a better understanding of each other as a result of discussing the "elephant in the room," instead of pretending it didn't exist.
No, seriously, we had a kid as big as an elephant in that class. I'm not talking about a guy who was six-feet-tall and overweight, I'm talking about a guy who was 12-feet-tall on all fours and weighed several tons. The janitor had to follow him around with a big shovel and a bag of sawdust just to deal with his waste. As if this wasn't distracting enough, he had an incredibly long nose through which he would occasionally let out a deafening trumpeting sound. Oh yes, and it was prehensile. He could pick things up with his nose! No sh*t.
Try reading Twain and grappling with racial tension with that kind of thing going on in the middle of the room. Nigga, please!