On Tuesday, fifteen people who were arrested for protesting HB 2281, Arizona’s ethnic studies ban, are headed to court. Thirteen were charged with criminal trespass for staging a sit-in in May in a public building where Arizona schools chief Tom Horne was speaking the day after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law.
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona and one of the defendants wrote for New America Media:
The irony of standing trial on Columbus Day - for defending Tucson’s Raza Studies Program - is not lost on the defendants. The philosophical foundation for Raza Studies at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is maiz-based knowledge - knowledge that is both indigenous to this continent, and at least 7,000 years old.
Horne charges that the program is “un-American,” that it promotes ethnic solidarity and that it breeds resentment against other races and the United States itself.
Through HB 2281, Horne has charged that ethnic studies promotes segregation and calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. The legislation creates exemptions for American Indian Studies and African-American Studies - a clumsy attempt to isolate Tucson’s Raza Studies.
The law itself is being challenged in a separate a separate legal challenge, where critics and defenders of HB 2281 will have to hash out what exactly American history is, and whether or not the history of people of color in this country can be defined as “un-American.”
As the law reads right now, ethnic studies programs in Tucson will have to be phased out by December 31 of this year. School districts that are found violating the ethnic studies ban could lose state funding.
Till then, ethnic studies programs will continue in Arizona, and are attracting ever more students.