Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies

Right on the heels of their controversial ‘Papers Please’ immigration law, Arizona legislators seem intent on solidifying their image as racist xenophobes by imposing a ban on ethnics studies classes in public schools.

On Tuesday, May 11, 2010, only hours after the United Nations released a report by Human Rights experts condemning Arizona Immigration bill SB 1070, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new bill targeting a Tucson area school district’s ethnic studies program.

Arizona Superintendent of Education and Republican candidate for Attorney General Tom Horne pushed the measure for years, claiming that the ethnic studies program in the Tucson school district promotes “ethnic chauvinism” and racial resentment toward whites.

The measure prohibits classes that School District Officials accuse of advocating ethnic solidarity that they say are designed primarily for students of a particular race, and promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group; namely whites. The new law also states that its goal is to prohibit classes or curriculum that promote the ‘overthrow of the U.S. government.’ The wording and stated goals of this legislation has concerned experts and drawn sharp criticism for its apparently racist and xenophobic characteristics.

Stunned Officials of the Tucson Unified School District insist that their curriculum does not promote resentment or warrant these allegations.

Classes offered by the Tucson Unified School District include African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies focusing on history and literature and including information about the influence and contribution of the ethnic group being studied.

In addition to their condemnation of the new Arizona immigration law, six UN human rights experts released a statement earlier Tuesday expressing concern about the measure stating that they believe all people have the right to learn about their own cultural and linguistic heritage.

Gov. Brewer’s spokesperson, Paul Senseman, didn’t directly address the UN criticism but stated that the Governor supports the bill’s goal.

Mr. Horne charges that the Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Horne has been attacking the ethnics studies program ever since a 2006 incident where Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta reportedly told a group of students that “Republicans hate Latinos.”

The institutionalization of xenophobia and racism in Arizona must be addressed by all Americans. The Boycott of Arizona must be expanded and intensified and demonstrations.

Forces supporting these draconian laws are organized by the Arizona Tea Party and plan to converge on Phoenix June 5 through 12 in what they are calling a ‘National Freedom March‘ to apparently celebrate and promote these new changes. Hopefully they won’t be the only ones making noise and holding rallies.


3 Responses to Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies

  1. Hèlen Grives May 16, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I’ve seen much Twitter posts coming around about banning ethnics studies in Arizona. So I just thought lets have a look what this is about.

    My first remark is that teaching is not about telling the student what to think, but learning the student how to explore his/her own thinking. Secondly about how to learn the student think independently. Fear is also a projection of ones own views about right and wrong. In this particular case it seems that Mr. Horne has an implicit notion about how Latino’s have been treated, and maybe are still treated. I mention this, because if the Latino’s are treated well and have all the access to the resources they need to be thriving Latino Americans, there would be simply no ground for fear for the ideas and sentiments of Latino’s. Everyone would namely heading in the same direction a greater good for everybody starting from the private position of the individual.

    A time of crises is just the adjustment to what is going on in society. Overthrowing the government seems a rather childish statement of government itself. It merely says that the government itself is unable to catch up with speed of actual changes in society itself. Instead of listening to the grievance and positive signals from the Latino’s or people in general, governmental laws turn to repression as solution. In this way the fear of resentment towards white people becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. And therefore it can count for a lack of communicating skills. In my opinion ethnic studies can be seen as a catharsis. Every nation that has conquered others have to go through a phase were it has to deal with its own past and come to peace with it. The German’s had to go through that phase, the Dutch also. But if you bear the consequences of your deeds in a dignified way and deal with them in respect to human rights; no government should than have to fear for minorities. Or in this case no white man should have to fear being oppressed by others.

  2. Shiva May 16, 2010 at 5:28 am

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the actions taken by the Governor, I am totally against the boycotting of one state against another.

    Its called the United States Of America. And while it may have problems internally it does NOT ostracize parts of itself.

  3. Brad May 17, 2010 at 3:12 am

    Screw that! Boycott these racist pigs until they change their ways!

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