On Tuesday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law HB 2281, which bans schools from teaching classes designed for students of a particular ethnic group. The law goes into effect on December 30.
Since the signing of the law, I have read many people across the internet saying the same thing, how ridiculous this law is especially given the fact that the way history and language arts and almost everything is taught today in so many schools across the country is from a white EuroAmerican lens. Reading the law, so many school classes across the country would have to be banned. I’ll repost what I said when this law was moving through the Arizona legislature:
Of course this law only makes sense in the context of growing anti-Latino hate. Surely there will be no attempts to ban the teaching of the supremacy of the Europeans who came to what is now Arizona in order to “civilize” it. Certainly no one will object to the calls for people to organize against brown people or those with last names that end in z’s or make you roll your r’s. This law in itself is an example of resentment against a growing class of people : Latinos.
This law was written specifically to target the Chicano, or Mexican American, studies program in the Tucson school system, said state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Horne.
Horne has been trying to end the program for years, saying it divides students by race and promotes resentment. He singled out one history book used in some classes, “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos,” by Rodolfo Acuna, a professor and founder of the Chicano studies program at Cal State Northridge.
“To begin with, the title of the book implies to the kids that they live in occupied America, or occupied Mexico,” Horne said last week in a telephone interview.
Wait we don’t? How exactly was the West or the Southwest won? Please turn to your history books.
Just as the reactions against SB1070 were swift and continue to grow, I hope that educators at all levels, from Pre-K to post-grad across the country take this as an opportunity to organize. I hope that parents take this as an opportunity to examine what their children know about who they are and how they got here. As a radical educator, writer and mami, I consider it part of my job to make information available to the young people I work and live with. This is not brainwashing, it is providing a full context for a generation that has been trained how to fill in bubbles and scantron sheets.
You should consider it part of your job too.