Arizona, Mexican-American Studies, & Book Banning

| Wednesday, April 11, 2012
One of the books removed from classrooms
Today's Tune: The Quiet Ambient

I can't imagine anyone hasn't heard about the issues going on with Arizona and Mexican-American studies yet, but if not, here's the gist: in January, the Tuscon school district had to halt its Mexican-American courses and remove a number of its books in order to avoid losing significant state funding. Essentially, the district was strong-armed -- either they stood by their nationally-acclaimed ethnic studies program and lost $14 million of desperately needed state funding, or they abolished the program. Books referencing overthrowing the government or racial segregation were also removed, which is pretty damn indicative of the mindframe this is coming from. The proponents of this law claim that framing historical events in "racial" terms in order to create a sense of solidarity results in groupthink and victimhood.

Basically, if you're reading between the lines, the implication is that Mexican-American students learning about their history of oppression and civil rights might, you know, get upset about it. And if they get upset about it, that might turn into anger at THE WHITE MAN. And the white man doesn't want that. Oh no. Therefore the answer, naturally, is to get rid of any courses or books that might make young Mexican-Americans want to, I don't know, take political action. Maybe vote for Latinos instead of Old White Guys. That kind of thing.

It's okay for people to get upset about their history of oppression, America. It's a reasonable response. It amazes me how people never seem to notice that the knee-jerk reaction to people who are starting to get upset and make changes is immediate silencing. Shhhhh, shhh. It's clearly these BOOKS AND LESSONS that are making you upset. It's okay. We'll just put those away, because we wouldn't want you to feel like a victim. If you feel like a victim, it's your own fault, really. YOU get to choose if you're a victim, silly. It has nothing to do with actually being victimized and, I don't know, having some power-hungry old politicians take away your schoolbooks because they decided it might make you too rowdy.

Actually, I'm lying. It doesn't surprise me at all that people in power want to hush anyone who starts to question that power or take action toward making them share it.

I can't go on too long about this sort of thing or else I just get mind-blowingly angry about it and devolve into laskdhf7^T*&STFius4fsf, but I highly encourage you to read about what's going on in Arizona school districts. There are articles and opinion pieces here and here to get you started. You should definitely read more and research on your own if you're so inclined.

I hate that this is happening. I hate that the books Mexican-American youths can see themselves in are being taken out of their hands and replaced with more European/"American" history because... apparently white history isn't based on race? Or something? I don't know. Multicultural books are difficult enough to find in the first place, and now they're being boxed up and tucked away in storage. Oh, some copies of some of the books are still available at the library? Well goodness, that's sure nice of you. Buttheads.

People don't do this kind of thing unless they're afraid. You don't take away books unless you're afraid of the ideas the books are inspiring. This is happening because people in power are starting to see change they don't like. Well, I hate to break it to them, but you can't stop change. You may be able to put up road blocks and hold it off for a while, but you can't make it go away. This isn't a small section of the population anymore... and that's exactly what scares them so much.

Anyway, I'm getting to the good part now. If this situation bothers you as much as it bothers me, please consider supporting organizations like the Librotraficantes (translated to "Book Traffickers"). This is a mobile library run by volunteers who are trying to get books about Mexican-Americans and their history back into the hands of the students who need them. You can donate time, money, possibly even books. I wish this organization didn't even have to exist, but I'm so grateful that they do.

What say you, readers? Thoughts? Rants?


{ Emily R. King } at: April 11, 2012 at 7:43 AM said...

I agree that fear often prompts book bans. It is sad that people have to create a movement banning books instead of simply not picking them up to read. Why deny others the right to read?

{ Von L } at: April 11, 2012 at 8:20 AM said...

Control the people by controlling the access to information, this is a theme in my WIP.

Thanks for sharing the Librotraficantes link. There will always be those that fight for justice. They are the true heroes.

In the age of free information (the Internet) those that want to control ideas will ultimately lose. One meets their destiny while on the road to avoid it.

{ Janna } at: April 11, 2012 at 9:59 AM said...

I keep hoping all the craziness sprouting up is regressive politics' last whiny hurrah before we move into the 21st Century for reals.

{ Leigh Covington } at: April 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM said...

First off... I totally thought I was following you! Agh! I can't believe I wasn't! That is remedied now!

And... even worse, I didn't know about this. It's probably on the news, but the news just puts me in a bad mood. Too much crap like this going on. The government isn't exactly on my "good" list these days. *shakes head* I'm like you. I could keep going but then I'm going to get REALLY mad.

{ We Heart YA } at: April 16, 2012 at 11:31 AM said...

Like you, we were appalled and outraged when we heard about this. The only silver lining is that all the press will hopefully help Hispanic authors get more attention and sell more books, and get the communities riled up enough to take a stand. We actually just bought Matt de la Peña's book BALL DON'T LIE, which (we're embarrassed to admit) we never would've heard about if it weren't for this controversy.

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