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 http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/12/arizona-bans-ethnic-studies-read-the-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.
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.