School Cancels Production of 'Ten Little Indians' Over Concerns of Racial SlurAn Ohio high school has canceled its student theater production of "Ten Little Indians" after local residents complained about a racial slur in the original title of the Agatha Christie novel, which never has been published under that name in this country.
The best-selling murder mystery originally was named "Ten Little N---ers" when it was published in England in 1939.
The name of the book was changed for production in the United States, and the school was using the name "Ten Little Indians" for the play's title. The book also has been renamed in some productions as "And Then There Were None," which is the closing line of the nursery rhyme with the novel's name.
The play was to be performed this week by students at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio.
Students now will perform "Harvey," scheduled for February.
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Gary Hines, who is president of a local NAACP branch, brought the complaint to school administrators after hearing concerns from a parent. According to Hines, "... Christie had 'racist ideas' and presented a tale of genocide in the novel.
Is the complaint justified? Or is this a form of censorship, and the equivalent of attempting to ban Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn?
"Ten Little Indians", under any title, is a powerful piece of drama that provides a window into the minds of people living in the late '30s. For better or ill, we know that people still harbored racist intents. But from our vantage point in time, we can use plays like "Ten Little Indians" to educate students on a whole host of topics, from the literary to the sociological. Yes, it is challenging. But isn't that what we need in our schools -- topics to challenge young minds? Avoiding tough topics will not develop the strong, independent-thinking citizens we need.