Arizona’s Brewer Keeps on Moving to the White

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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.

Post to Twitter

60 comments on “Arizona’s Brewer Keeps on Moving to the White
  1. Meagan,
    Sorry, I typed that before I saw you address the filthy word.
    And yesl, if one is a “racist” then it is not a slur. I’ve met them in person. I had a confrontation with a white neo Nazi skinhead in person once and told him off in front of a crowd of people. I called him a thug and a racist both. But there was evidence that he was a racist. I think that the person who used the term had no evidence to support it. So while it may not be a “slur” for some people in this case it’s a lie.

  2. I don’t want to distract too much from the conversation and focus of this thread which should be on Arizona’s laws which indeed are racist.

    John, what is your definition of racist just to make sure we’re on the same page here?

  3. Just a little background…

    In the early 2000s I worked in central California organizing mostly Hispanic people to fight for human rights among farm workers. Some Philippinos and Anglos were involved too. But most were undocumented peoples from Mexico and Central America. They picked fruit and vegetables. Many of these people lived in garages rented to them by people who could afford a house. There were be 10 to 15 people crammed into a garage with no sanitary facilities or place to cook. Most of them didn’t know how much they were earning because the farm companies paid their rent directly to their landlords and then gave them a little “credit card” which they could use only at certain stores in town. I helped them to organize and got speakers to confront the city council, law enforcement and other community organizations and churches about their conditions.

    Ironically one of the groups which opposed us was “MEChA”. They called us racists because we were challenging the farm owners, who were mostly Latinos. One night an owner of a small restaurant asked to speak to me in private. He told me that one of the leaders of “MEChA”, who also worked teaching Ethnic Studies at the local city college, was one of the landlords for these undocumented workers. He had 14 young men living in his garage without allowing them the use of a toilet. He did, however, allow them to clean themselves with his garden hose in the back yard. I thought this less than generous of him.

    So when I hear about people who want to accuse people of racism and preach a radical agenda I am often suspicious. Perhaps you can see why.

  4. I think within each and every organization and movement it is easy to find people who take advantage of the very people they claim to be helping. I don’t think that’s unique to the branch of MECHA you once came into contact with

  5. Megan,
    I agree completely with you there. It certainly isn’t unique to MEChA or any other organization or movement. This is, however, why I am very wary of extremists, whether they are of one organization or another, one movement, group, race, culture or another. Extremism is rarely a good thing.

  6. if i was gonna worry about extremists, MEChA would not be the first place I would look. Most of them can talk a good game, but couldn’t organize or mobilize themselves out of a paper bag, for carajos sake. Does anyone else remember the 6 hour-long meetings to revise the org’s constitution? ;)

  7. The so-called Bill is illegal and I and my colleagues would like to challenge this state act of Apartheid under international law. This Bill is clearly unlawful as it violates the right of the African Americans and Mexicans freedom of expression. I have just completed a book called “The Right to a Political Identity” and the only thing that the Arizona Legislature is correct about is that the atrocities by the U.S and Arizona against the Africans and Mexicans is so extensive that if History was taught correctly, it would engender restorative justice.

    Under a free educational system it would soon be discovered that the Africans, Mexicans, and Indians come out of the same ancient peoples. We now have proof that the oldest human existence in the Americas was African. (Please google ‘Luzia skeletal’, found in Brazil). The fear of the Arizona legislature and most of Anglo-America is that we find out that people of color in the United States are closely related and that we have all been oppressed by the Anglo Americans.

    The entire American educational system has been revised so that people of color remain powerless. We can look at Harvard Professor’s Louis Gates recent article to understand the type of ‘revisionist scholarship’ that is being taught in the American system. In order to fight oppression we must understand why it is important to be ourselves under the framework of self-determination and Indigenous rights.

    This is “The New Framework” of what the African Americans internationalist understand the deceived of knowledge commonly call “Reparations”.

  8. I am european, Italian specifically.
    In reading the comments I have noticed that they reflect all the typical issues of immigration all over the world.
    All comments are “sentimental” as they reflect the experiences of each participant. All comments concerning fighting against the conditions of work or life of poor immigrants are true and provide evidence of how bad are the human beings, not the laws .

    If you look at the history of emigration trough the millennia you will find the same path of events and the same conclusions .
    EMIGRATION is dictated specifically by economic reasons. My people left by millions Italy to find a job. Millions emigrated to USA. (incidentally I do not know if there are special classes of Italian heritage and culture, outside cooking, in the US schools. I believe not) . I red that there are nearly 20 millions italian-americans in USA, a large number in any case.
    IMMIGRANTS suffered and suffer any kind of physical and spiritual harassment: at the beginning, in large part, by their people (who arrived before them) and by natives who take advantage of their desperation in the most horrible manners (e.g. today in my country there are italians who rent a room to ten immigrants, very frequently illegal, charging each of them with the cost of an apartment).
    CHANGE. When immigrants, usually because of the number, become an important factor of the social and economic life of the area, then the STRUGGLE for power sharing stars.
    The struggle for power may take many different forms. Nationalism, in case of Mexicans, religion, in case of Muslims, identity, etc. but regardless of the “noble” motivations, is always a struggle for power.
    In the advanced civilizations ( and here I want to state clearly that from an historian point of view USA is a more “advanced civilization” than Mexico, to day) if the struggle for power works within the accepted guidelines of the system a solution is found in a reasonable period of time, otherwise it does not.
    To me this “gymnastic” about the immigration law recently adopted is only a moment of this struggle. The law in itself is not racist unless you want to read it in this way. The principles of this law are in existence in Europe since long time and nobody thinks that they are “racist”. It is a law which disciplines the police activity in a very democratic and protective way. This in principle. If you start to say that the police is arresting people because they look mexicans then it is a problem of law enforcement, but not of law.
    I think that in this phase of the struggle the Mexicans who take position against the law are damaging their acquired social and political conquests.

    The struggle may take more sophisticated ways. It may start with the special classes in schools. A special class has the specific goal of building a “different” culture from the predominant one. Obviously the predominant one will try to give an appropriate answer, i.e. cutting funds (in the american, civilized, system). Both positions are logic, moral and justifiable.

    As a reader I really appreciated the fact that you may reach climaxes of mental inspiration by the fact that you are all original
    Africans and that you have been oppressed by Anglo Americans (I do not feel involved as I am mediterranean)!

    One personal comment. Mexicans should be very careful to avoid conflicts involving the stability of the system. First, because they are part of the system as long they accept it, second because the reaction of the system may be blind. A democratic compromise is always the best solution. Mexicans are immigrants as probably the 80% of the American population. Why do they want become special ?

  9. There a few misconceptions (errors?) in your comment Roberto.

    First, you fail to deal with the issue of institutional racism. I would disagree completely with your assertion that no one considers the immigration laws of Europe racist. I would remind you of the uprisings in France a few years ago. I would also draw your attention to Spain and your own country, Italy.

    Second, I don’t know what you mean by original Africans and I’m pretty sure that none of the editors/writers here identify as such.

    Third, the fact that you claim that Mexicans want special attention proves that you have taken the bait. You have accepted the rhetoric that immigration is brown and brown is Mexican. The experiences of Italians who came to the US towards the turn of the 20th century has parallels to the current situation yes except it fails to deal with the U.S history of intervention in Latin America and how that also has impacted anti-latino sentiment.

Comments are closed.