Monday, February 27, 2012

Ethnic Studies and Book Ban in Tucson Arizona 2012

This will be part one of a two part blog covering the new law banning ethnic studies and banning books such as Shakespeares the Tempest from the high school curriculum in Tucson Unified School Districts.
 In 2006 labor rights activist Dolores Huerta told Tucson High Magnet School students that "Republicans hate Mexicans". In reaction to this then Superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne sent deputy superintendent Margaret Dugan to explain to the students why Huerta was wrong.  The students felt frustration at not being allowed to ask Dugan questions. They placed tape on thier mouths and more than 200 students walked out on the speech. Horne investigated about how these students learned about free speech and civil disobedience. Horne decided that this knowledge came from their Mexican American studies classes. Thus HB 2281 was launched. Around the time that Huerta spoke to the students a series of bills were being passed such as SB 1070 which we read about in another classmates blog this semester. These legislative attacks were aimed at enforcing borders and antiimmigrant sentiment. Huertas aim in telling the students that republicans hate mexicans was an effort to have the children look at and challenge them.  Senator John Huppenthal successfully ran for state superintendent with the platform stating he would eliminate Raza studies. La Raza being a term used by the Chicano Movement meaning "the people".
The origins of the Tucson Mexican American studies department was a response to student drop out rates and low test scores. the Department of Education hired the Cambium group to audit the program. the Cambium report found that students were doing better in school and that the classes
increased the likelihood that students would graduate and go on to college. Students even began to perform better outside of the classes such as math. Teaching kids their history affirms and supports their performance in and out of the class room. Personally ethnic studies gave me a voice and affirmed that i had a role in my education. I learned that there are others like me and we too have the power to create knowledge.  I learned to think critically about issues in and outside my community. Sandra Cisneros wrote "One day i will pack my bags of books and paper. One day i will say goodbye to Mango. I am too strong for her to keep me here forever. One day i will go away. Friends and neighbors will say, What happened to that Esperanza? Where did she go with all those books and paper? why did she march so far away? They will not know I have gone away to come back.  For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out".

further readings/reference
Sandra Cisneros banned book The House on Mango Street
Pedagogy of The Oppressed Paulo Freire

What's Race Got to Do With It? Critical Race Theory's Conflicts With and Connections to Qualitative Research Methodology and Epitemology
Laurence Parker and Marvin Lynn

What happened to the lost girls of Sudan?

Featured local Youth and Justice artist: DJ Howl - Think globally, act locally
This is the 5 min. mix I made for battle of the bands. The Mesquite High school battle of the bands was recently cancelled despite having been held every year prior to 2012. The student council at MHS shut it down to prove that they are not afraid to use their near fascist power to censor the rising genre of electronic dance music. This is social injustice, because one cannot simply ban music from the school that isn't mainstream endorsed. So I put it on the internet, safe from the councils cold grasp.  Enjoy :) - Nick Yoakam

Can't Oppress EDM!

In 2000 The United States recieved 3276  Sudanese boys and 89 girls from the Sudanese refugee camps. As we know from our readings and class this week we have learned that these children suffered extreme hardships and duress and finally have arrived at a destination that has assisted them with relocation. After further research on the lost children of Sudan i found that 3000 girls vanished from official records.  There is some evidence that the  girls were shielded from the UN eyes in order to bring money to the foster families that were caring for them.  The girls were left behind because they were placed in foster care families instead of placing them in groups as the boys were. These foster families sold the girls to be slaves or brides. As we see from our readings when the INS officials arrived to interview the children the ones who were married did not qualify for relocation to the United States. The lost girls have been "twice forgotten". The girls who were not sold into marriage and slavery also stayed behind to perform unpaid labor for the foster families. However many of the girls have "simply disappeared".
The lost girls who made it to the United States have started to organize and presented at the conference for lost boys in Phoenix Arizona.  Several of the women were relocated to Dallas Texas. Below is a video of a lost girl telling her story in Washinton DC.

In concluding my blog i just wanted to speak about how amazed i was at the agency and resiliency of these children to survive adversity and stay true to themselves. Whenever i see them on video or pictures they are so happy to have the bare necessities and so many things many take for granted here in the United States. For example in the video about God grew tired of us when they arrived in their apartment and found their beds to be so soft and comfortable compare  to the hard floors they were used to. The lost girls have written a book and some of the proceeds will go to their education and advocacy.  For the lost girls who stayed behind there are presently efforts to build school dormitory for them to get thier education.  The book by the lost girls can be found at