I received my latest copy of Poets & Writers magazine this week. You have no idea how much joy this brings me. Every time I open it I am hopeful to some day pursue an MFA and I’m inspired to read more. While I don’t always read every single word, I read all the major articles (skipping mostly the responses to the editors etc.) Anyways, I’m reading this article about librotraficantes, which translates into ‘book traffickers’ (think like narcotic trafficking). At first i’m like good job for still getting your message out there when your books have been ‘banned’ etc. but then I realized that Arizona had implemented a statewide ban on ‘ethnic-studies curricula’. How can you ban something like that? We rarely get to know any culture but our own, and even what exposure we do get is tainted if it’s not part of an open forum/discussion etc. And really, books really do that for me. I can’t imagine living in the state of Arizona.
So the article goes on to quote House Bill 2281 from Arizon’s legislature, which made it illegal to each books in state funded (public and charter) schools which “promote the overthrow of the US government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the pupils as individuals.”
I should mention that I am not a political activist, and my blog isn’t about promoting politics or candidates or political views. However, sometimes these topics interest me(more than they frustrate me) and I think healthy dialogue is the way to bridge the gap. Call me crazy, but that’s how I feel.
Now, you know Arizona has already made clear how they feel about immigration. They have passed this bill a year ago. It seems rather a whole lot like a gilded hate crime law that protects the hate. The only program mentioned in the article is Mexican-American Studies, but I suppose the same must be true that they should do away with African-American studios, and heck even Hispanic Collegiate organizations or ‘clubs’. So in effect they want to blur away anything that makes people different. Oh lawed Arizona! I have to say, nothing will promote resentment towards a race of class of people more than making it wrong to celebrate their heritage, teach about their race, tell their history. I get that it’s an effort to blur the lines which separate us, but really it’s like banning history!
It’s possible that I don’t have all the details from reading a 500 word or so article. All I know is that the best classes I had in College (Rollins College) were regarding race, African American studies, Race and Ethnicity, the dialog was good for me and it was good for others who really believed that “race” was no longer and issue in this country. For some, having a black President is a sign that everyone is equal. When we start having many ethnic presidents then you can come at me with that logic. For now, I feel sad for those studying in Arizona who will miss out on ethnic studies.