Banned Books Week is a movement  aimed to celebrate the freedom to read books that have been banned or challenged in academia. You may or may not be surprised that the list includes classics that many hold near and dear.

Interestingly enough, quite a few of these frequently challenged books are written by minorities. Here are 5 incredibly famous books by minority women that have made the list.

1. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

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Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French graphic novelist. She was born and raised in Iran and experienced many of the socialist and communist movements prior and following the Iranian Revolution. Her graphic novel, Perspolis, is banned for having a “political viewpoint.”

It’s also cited for being “politically, racially, and socially offensive.” Psh.

2. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison


African-American novelist, Nobel-Prize winner, and Pulitzer-prize winner. Toni Morrison is definitely a triple-threat. So is, apparently, her novel. The Bluest Eye delves into racism in America during the Great Depression. It’s frequently challenged for containing “containing controversial issues.”

3. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros

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Sandra Cisneros is an American author of Mexican descent. Her book, The House on Mango Street, is widely read in literature classes (I read it myself as a sophomore in high school). It was banned in Arizona for allegedly promoting an overthrow of the government.

Um, no. The major themes in the book include struggling with identity, friendship, and loneliness. So…normal stuff that everyone deals with.

4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor

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Mildred D. Taylor is an African-American woman with a Newbury Medal under her belt. Her novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry tells a raw tale of racial segregation in the Deep South. It’s one of the most frequently challenged novels of the 21st century, with the primary reason being offensive language.

The main character, a punchy nine-year-old girl, doesn’t hold back her tongue. Honestly, though, the language is simply a part of American history.

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

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The late but dearly beloved Maya Angelou’s autobiography has been named by TIME Magazine as one of the best and most influential books of all time. Angelou has won countless awards, one of them being the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

How did such a popular book land on the banned list?

It seems that exploring identity, racism, and literacy is simply too much for the public to handle.

  • Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.