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Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban
Transcript of Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban
Two Sides of a Coin...
Why are the books banned?
Here are excerpts from two books from the banned books list and our analysis of why they might have been banned.
What Can We Do?
Luckily, we can do something to help save ethnic studies in Tucson. The easiest thing to do is to bring awareness of this topic to friends and family by sharing this Prezi. Spark a debate on your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Ask your friends about their thoughts and share both sides of the debate. Encourage ethnic studies by visiting saveethnicstudies.org and sign the petition to show your support for the program. If you’d like to help out even more, you can donate a copy of one of the banned books to an underground library at librotraficante.org or a monetary donation to either organization.
The program helps students improve academically. Cambium Learning Group, hired by current Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal and his team at the Department of Education, did an audit of the program and declared that it did not violate the state law and confirmed that the classes helped students do better on school and increased their chances to graduate and attend college. In the article "Ethnic Studies Myths", Nolan Cabrera presented the same analysis: "There are massive gaps in graduation (rates), but for (Mexican-American studies) kids, that gap is eliminated. It should be profound headline news. ... I have yet to see a program in TUSD that has such a profound impact. ... That tells me it's not just about teaching the student, but changing their orientation to school in general" (Herreras, 6).
What's happening with the Mexican-American Studies Program now?
Students, teachers, and activists traveled from Texas to Arizona in a caravan in order to smuggle the banned books back into Tucson following the Mexican-American studies ban. Led by Mexican-American author and educator Tony Diaz, the “Librotraficantes” traveled through Texas and New Mexico, collecting donations of the banned books in order to fill up their underground library in Tucson. In The Daily Beast article “Arizona Ethnic-Studies Ban’s Unintended Result: Underground Libraries“, Megan Feldman quotes Tony Diaz: “When Arizona legislators decide to erase our history, we decided to make more!” By creating the underground library, students may once again receive access to the books banned by the Tucson Unified School District.
Mexican-American “studies” returned to Arizona under the new name Mexican American Student Services. According to Griselda Nevarez in her Voxxi article, “Tucson’s Mexican American Studies Program is Revived, Has a New Focus”, the new program “no longer [teaches] courses about the contributions Mexican Americans make to society. Instead, the new department [focuses] on formulating strategies to assist struggling Latino students and address their education achievement gap, especially in math and reading.” The Mexican American Student Services strives to close the achievement gap between Chicano students and white students through conventional methods such as extra tutoring.
U.S. Circuit Court Judge Wallace Tashima found HB 2281 constitutional with an exception to the fact that it was aimed towards the Mexican-American studies program. Cindy Caramo’s LA Times article “Judge Upholds Arizona Law Banning Ethnic Studies” quotes Tashima: “This single-minded focus on terminating the [Mexican American studies] program, along with Horne’s decision not to issue findings against other ethnic studies programs, is at least suggestive of discriminatory intent”. This is an advantage for the Mexican-American studies program by giving evidence that rather than being for the greater good for Mexican-American students, HB 2881 was written plainly due to racial sentiment.
The program promotes terroristic ideals. An example provided by Lacey is “the suggestion that portions of the Southwest that were once part of Mexico should be returned to that country” (Lacey, 2). Horne reasons that after learning of their oppression, they will act on their anger towards whites. In this case, once the students learn how the United States took Mexican land, they will want to overthrow the US government to get it back.
Supporters of the Ban
Tom Horne reading excerpts from the banned books
“One Premise of the new legal storytellers is that members of this country’s dominant racial group cannot easily grasp what it is like to be nonwhite. Few have what W.E.B. Du Bois described as ‘double consciousness.’ History books, Sunday sermons, and even case law contribute to a cultural hegemony that makes it difficult for reformers to make race an issue” (Delgado and Stefancic, 40).
Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement
“The Mexican in the United States has been…no less a victim of American imperialism than his impoverished brothers in Latin America. In the words of the Second Declaration of Havana, tell him of ‘misery, feudal exploitation, illiteracy, starvation wages,’ and he will tell you that you speak of Texas; tell him of ‘unemployment, the policy of repression against the workers, discrimination…oppression by the oligarchies,; and he will tell you that you speak of California; tell him of U.S. domination of Latin America, and he will tell you that he knows that Shark and what he devours, because he has lived in its very entrails. The history of the American Southwest provides a brutal panorama of nascent imperialism” –Luis Valdez (Rosales, 177)
In conclusion, the debate over the banning of books and the banning of the ethnic studies program in Tucson is one for the books. But if someone does write it, does that mean this book will be banned as well? We will never know if authorities continue to ban history. Sally Rusk, a Pueblo High School teacher, explains, "The whole reason we study history is to learn from the past. As we learn, we need to share with others, and this is where it is scary for critics, because it is about transforming society." If we do not educate ourselves in this area of study, how do we know it will not happen again in the future? We don't, and that is why books and ethnic studies should not be banned.
The program promotes ethnic solidarity for Mexican-Americans. According to the article “Rift in Arizona as Latino Class Is Found Illegal”, Marc Lacey quotes Tom Horne, the former Superintendent of Public Instruction, saying “They (the Mexican-American studies program) are the ‘Bull Connors’. They are the ones resegregating” (Lacy, 2). As a firm believer in equality, Horne deems the program as one that disregards individuality and promotes only the Mexican race.
The program promotes resentment towards whites. In the same article mentioned earlier, Horne claims the texts used in class are racist by “[referring] to white people as ‘gringos’ and [describing] privilege as being related to the color of a person’s skin, hair and eyes” (Lacey, 3). The students learn they are not the privileged, but instead the whites are. Naturally, they will come to resent the whites that oppress them.
Opponents of the Ban
The program promotes strong beliefs. According to the article/interview "Why Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Crisis should Matter To All Educators: Interview with Dr. Rudy Acuna", when Jeff Biggers asks Acuna if he has any other thoughts, he answers,“Evidence has no meaning. I am sorry but I do believe in a reason; I do not base my conclusions on opinion. Some people in Arizona think that God is white and related to them, which is for idiots”(Biggers, 3). No matter how much evidence a person can show why ethnic studies should be banned, that will not stop the Mexican-Americans to fight for what they believe for.
Critical Race Theory: An Introduction
After doing research, activist W.E.B. Du Bois found a theory of “double consciousness.” Du Bois’s theory of double consciousness states that people raised with two or more cultures have two implements of themselves, varying from what situation they are in. Double consciousness allows for empathy, but since Delgado and Stefancic believe that many whites lack double consciousness, they are ignorant of ethnic culture and thus causing racial discord. Cultural hegemony, which is the idea that the dominant cultural group exerts influence over other cultural groups, has become a problem by "white-washing" parts of our everyday lives. This text was probably banned because it makes white people, who make up a large part of our government, look ignorant.
The program promotes that no history should be illegal. According to the article "No History Is Illegal: A Campaign to Save our Stories", the title is quoted “They say shut it down. We say spread it around!” (TAG, 1). This shows that the Mexican-American studies program students should do extra curricular activities such as protesting, surveys, and etc to spread those good reasons to save their ethnic education. We believe that education is essential to the preservation of civil and human rights.
In 2006, Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the Unites Farm Workers, told high school students that Republicans hated Latinos. Tom Horne, Arizona's attorney general denied the fact. He declared that Mexican-Americans contributing to the ethnic-studies program in Tuscon violate the 4 provisions of state standards in HB 2281: prohibits programs that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, that portions of the Southwest that were part of Mexico should be returned to that country, promotion of racial resentment, and programs that primarily educate one race or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of individuality. He immediately called for the banning of the program which came into effect in January 2011. In addition to the ban, the Tucson Unified School District released a list of books used in the program that were to be banned from its schools.
Officials say that a majority of ethnic students enrolled in this program do better on state tests than those who are not. Would the banning of better education create a rift between those who support it and those against it? You bet it would.
Although there are both positive and negative sides to the argument, the banning of books and the ethnic studies program are not the solution. Forbidding knowledge only further steps humanity back to the unknown. With that, we will never move forward. People will always find ways to discover new things. Take the smuggling of banned books from Texas to Arizona in March 2012, for example. Those students and teachers went as far as breaking the law to achieve their goal of creating an underground library. Ban Mexican-American studies? No problem. Let's just change the name to Mexican-American Student Services. We simply cannot limit our curious minds consciously knowing there is much more to learn out in the world.
Others may find certain articles and books disturbing or think ethnic study programs in schools promote racism, but they mainly disregard the other side's opinion. Many of these arguments do not show the fact that there is a disclaimer of pure assumption. Horne assumes there is some sort of racial resentment promoted in the ethnic studies program, and it suggests terrorist ideals, but none of those proved 100% true. Resentment is an act from within and is a choice. It comes from an individual's own reasoning, and Horne believes the influence is a lot more stronger than it merely is. Furthermore, there is clearly no terrorism happening or overthrowing of the U.S. government as he suggests.
Luis Valdez, one of many writers for the Mexican community, refers his arguments towards historical events that were masked from the public's knowledge. Valdez argues that one would not have to look far to find oppression; it is here in the United States. Every atrocity you can think of has been committed by the U.S. towards the Mexicans. This text has been banned because it vilifies the United States as one of the Mexicans' oppressors. In a land known for equal opportunity, some things just aren't equal.
Biggers, Jeff. "Why Arizona's Ethnic Studies Crisis Should Matter To All Educators: Interview with Dr. Rudy Acuna." Huffington Post [New York] 9 Aug. 2011: 3. Print.
Caramo, Cindy. "Judge upholds Arizona law banning ethnic studies classes." LA Times [Los Angeles] 12 Mar. 2013: n. pag. latimes.com. Web. 6 Aug. 2013.
Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical race theory: an introduction. New York: New York University Press, 2001. Print.
Feldman, Megan . "Arizona Ethnic-Studies Ban’s Unintended Result: Underground Libraries." The Daily Beast 19 Mar. 2012: n. pag. thedailybeast.com. Web. 6 Aug. 2013.
Herreras, Mari. "Ethnic Studies Myths." Tucson Weekly 17 Nov. 2011: 6. Print.
Lacey, Marc. "Rift in Arizona as Latino Class Is Found Illegal." The New York Times 7 Jan. 2011: 2-3. Print.
Nevarez, Griselda. "Tucson's Mexican American Studies Program is Revived, Has a New Focus." Voxxi 31 July 2012: n. pag. voxxi.com. Web. 6 Aug. 2013.
"No History Is Illegal | Network of Teacher Activist Groups." Network of Teacher Activist Groups. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://teacheractivistgroups.org/tucson>.
Rosales, Francisco A.. Chicano!: the history of the Mexican American civil rights movement. Houston, TX: Arte Público Press, 1996. Print.
By: Kevin Nguyen
The following video is a trailer for a documentary entitled "La Obra De Los Librotraficantes".
What is the argument for each side?