NOTE: This "recycled" post from earlier this year reminds us that we need to think about banned books every week – not just this one.
Just over a year ago, a controversial ban (HR 2281) on ethnic studies classes in Arizona public schools went into effect. The law bans classes that "promote the overthrow of the United States government and resentment toward a race or class of people" and also prohibits courses that are designed "primarily for students of a particular ethnic group and those that advocate ethnic solidarity rather than treat students as individuals." Critics, such as Care2′s Amelia Thomson-Deveaux, contended that the "law openly discriminates against minorities"; certainly the political climate in Arizona has been "unspeakably hostile to immigrants and minorities."
The ban was proposed in response to the 13-year-old Mexican American history program in the Tucson Unified School District, in which more than 60 percent of the students are from Mexican American backgrounds. Noting that their courses are open to all students, the Tucson school district was initially not worried about the ban. But after being told that it would face a multimillion dollar penalty in the form of the loss of state funds, the district's governing board has ended the Mexican-American history program.
In addition to the ethnic studies ban, the Tucson school district released a list of books that will be banned from its schools. A number of books from Mexican American studies classrooms have reportedly been boxed up and removed from classrooms.
Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children's Literature (ACLC) has posted a list of the books from an audit of Tucson's Mexican American Studies program; the findings were published in May of 2011. She writes that "At this point is is not known if all the books listed below were boxed and removed. They were placed in storage."
Jeff Biggers at Salon has reviewed the list and found that it contains
- Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Brazilian educator Paolo Freire (about the author's "search for a way to fashion education into a transformative tool for individuals and society")
- Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña (described as "one of the few books that offers a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the major historical experiences of Chicanos that invokes critical thinking and intellectual discussion")
Here are six more books that have been sent to the Tucson school district's Textbook Repository because "race, ethnicity and oppression" are among their "central themes."
I suppose you could say that it is a bit ironic that the state of Arizona, in the name of banning books about such "themes," is conducting its own campaign of suppression of knowledge and learning in an effort resembling the tactics of repressive regimes.
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by B. Bigelow and B. Peterson
Maria Garza Lubeck of the Children's Defense Fund has praised this book, which has changed the way the "discovery of America" is taught. Says Lubeck:
Until we realize that history is comprised of the good, the bad, and the ugly, we will never be truly free. This book is an important step in unifying our common destiny.
Rethinking Columbus includes an essay by Tucson author Leslie Marmon Silko, a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient and of a Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award.
Painting by John Vanderlyn via Wikimedia Commons
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/6-books-banned-tucson.html#ixzz28RHEtN6G
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/6-books-banned-tucson.html#ixzz28RH8J1FL