Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Opinion of the Arizona Book Ban

The recent book ban in Arizona has left a bad taste in my mouth.

The people implementing the ban claim that they aren't actually banning books, but rather banning the ethnic studies programs. (How is that supposed to make it any better?) However, they did decide to box up and cart away all the students' books to a "district storage facility." The Tucson School Board was basically told that if they did not abolish the ethnic studies Mexican American Studies programs, then they would lose more than 14 MILLION DOLLARS in state funding.

As a Latina mom who is extremely concerned about the education of not only my children, but ALL children in this country, and especially those who come from Latino families, it infuriates me that such outrageous blackmail is possible.

For years, now, I have publicly voiced my opinion to encourage publishing houses to print more books by Latino authors FOR Latino children. I have said time and again how important it is for our children to see their own faces reflected in literature... in a positive manner. Studies have shown that "Latino adolescents in the U.S. who maintain ties to their culture of origin are more likely to develop healthy behaviors than their peers who do not. Latino adolescents with strong awareness of their family’s culture reported higher self esteem, fewer social problems and less
hopelessness, aggression, and substance abuse." This is the exact opposite of what the ethnic studies are accused of doing.

The Arizona school superintendent, John Huppenthal, instead claims that the Mexican American Studies ethnic studies programs “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people” and “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

Mr. Huppenthal, I don't think you need to worry about the ethnic studies programs doing this. You seem to be doing a great job of it all by yourself. 

Mamiverse has a great commentary on the subject written by Beatriz Terrazas. So does Multicultural Familia. Both object to the banning of books.

In my opinion, the ones who suffer the most from these horrible actions are our children. Instead of growing up in a world filled with possibility, they are being treated with no respect and are being told their history is not worthy of studying.

We must fight for our children. Because if we don't, who will?

So I want to challenge those of you who oppose this atrocious act of censorship and repression to sign the petition created by Norma Gonzalez to the Tucson Unified School Board asking them to return the books to the students. Norma is a teacher in the TUSD, whose culture class has been terminated. Take a moment to read her words about the petition, as well as the petition itself. I have hope in our society. Today, I have watched the number of signatures skyrocket. As I write this, already nearly 10,000 people have signed this petition.

We, Latinos, are a strong and resilient people. And we have determination in our blood. César Chávez and Dolores Huerta are prime examples of the things we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. There's not much you can throw at us that our ancestors haven't already experienced and survived. Don't believe me? Read the REAL history books. I am proud of my heritage and the blessings that God has given us.

It is time for us to put a stop to this nonsense. It is time to say, "Enough." 

We will be educated. And we will be heard.


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