Arizona’s ban on the Mexican American Studies curriculum used in Tucson high schools went into effect on January 1st. Several authors who are on the banned list have made statements.
"Administrators told Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any class units where ‘race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,’"Jeff Biggers wrote on Salon.com.
That list of banned books includes "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos," Paulo Freire’s "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," "Rethinking Columbus," "Critical Race Theory," Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" and "Chicano!: the History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement."
The Progressive has compiled responses from authors included in the ban including Sherman Alexie, Winona La Duke, and Junot Diaz.
Alexie’s book "The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s Fist Fight in Heaven," was on the banned curriculum of the Mexican American Studies Program. An excerpt from his response via The Progressive:
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I’m pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I’m also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.
Winona LaDuke responded on the Indian Country Today Network, an excerpt below:
My essay "To the Women of the World: Our Future, Our Responsibility" was also included in the book. Interestingly enough, if I were going to ban one of my essays from a public school, this would probably not be the one. The essay is the transcript of my opening plenary address to the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women in 1995, held in Bejing, China. Other books and writings banned include those by famed Brazilian educator Paulo Friere and, in a multiracial censorship move, Shakespeare’s The Tempest was also banned.
Book-banning has a distasteful history. Catholic priests burned Mayan books in 1562, Nazi Germany banned 4,100 or so books from 193 to 1939.
Junot Diaz’s book "Drown" was also part of the banned curriculum of Mexican American Studies. Diaz won the Pulitzer prize for "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." His response to the Progressive is below:
This is covert white supremacy in the guise of educational standard-keeping–nothing more, nothing less. Given the sharp increase of anti-Latino rhetoric, policies, and crimes in Arizona and the rest of the country, one should not be surprised by this madness and yet one is. The removal of those books before those students’ very eyes makes it brutally clear how vulnerable communities of color and our children are to this latest eruption of cruel, divisive, irrational, fearful, and yes racist politics. Truly infuriating. And more reason to continue to fight for a just society.
Visit The Progressive for more responses.