Emotional Segregation: Huckleberry Finn in the Modern Classroom

In this article, I explore emotional segregation and how it functions in the context of Huckleberry Finn for both personal and academic reasons. Recently, I read Huckleberry Finn because it had been assigned to my daughter’s middle school class. I was concerned for her welfare because she is Black and worried how the book would affect her. To understand her reactions, I had to understand the controversy surrounding the book, particularly as a White mother I have reflected quite deeply on the question whether the book is racist. I define “racism” as a belief in the myth of White superiority and Black inferiority, also known as the race precept. 1 I conclude that Huckleberry Finn is racist. Undoubtedly, my conclusion reflects my experience as a White mother of a Black child. Without those experiences, it is possible my whiteness would not have allowed me to understand why and how teaching the book creates emotional segregation.