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6 Books Banned Thanks To Arizona’s Ban of Ethnic Studies

6 Books Banned Thanks To Arizona’s Ban of Ethnic Studies
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NOTE:  This “recycled” post from earlier this year reminds us that we need to think about banned books every week – not just this one.

Just over a year ago, a controversial ban (HR 2281) on ethnic studies classes in Arizona public schools went into effect. The law bans classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government and resentment toward a race or class of people” and also prohibits courses that are designed “primarily for students of a particular ethnic group and those that advocate ethnic solidarity rather than treat students as individuals.” Critics, such as Care2′s Amelia Thomson-Deveaux, contended that the “law openly discriminates against minorities”; certainly the political climate in Arizona has been “unspeakably hostile to immigrants and minorities.”

The ban was proposed in response to the 13-year-old Mexican American history program in the Tucson Unified School District, in which more than 60 percent of the students are from Mexican American backgrounds. Noting that their courses are open to all students, the Tucson school district was initially not worried about the ban. But after being told that it would face a multimillion dollar penalty in the form of the loss of state funds, the district’s governing board has ended the Mexican-American history program.

In addition to the ethnic studies ban, the Tucson school district released a list of books that will be banned from its schools. A number of books from Mexican American studies classrooms have reportedly been boxed up and removed from classrooms.

Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s Literature (ACLC) has posted a list of the books from an audit of Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program; the findings were published in May of 2011. She writes that “At this point is is not known if all the books listed below were boxed and removed. They were placed in storage.”

Jeff Biggers at Salon has reviewed the list and found that it contains

Here are six more books that have been sent to the Tucson school district’s Textbook Repository because “race, ethnicity and oppression” are among their “central themes.”

I suppose you could say that it is a bit ironic that the state of Arizona, in the name of banning books about such “themes,” is conducting its own campaign of suppression of knowledge and learning in an effort resembling the tactics of repressive regimes.

Top photo of The Tempest by William Shakespeare via Wikimedia Commons

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301 comments

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7:29AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

this is disheartening. and sad. all of these are educational, thought provoking and good. thats the issue I guess. they don't want us to think. they want us to obey. sigh

10:24PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

can't believe that in 2012 we are still banning books... Crazy

12:43PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

@ Linda E. The people that you are talking about who colonized this country came from Europe in the greatest numbers.Why is it ok to have Great Britians history taught but not Mexicos?The people who came here were coming for the same reasons then, as people who come now.Your arguments do not stand up to any logical thinking.Makes you sound racist.

12:25PM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

A closed book means a closed mind !!!

3:59AM PDT on Oct 7, 2012

A friend of mine years ago visited a university in America (I don't recall which). To get a flavour of what was going on, he went to a film night organised by the students - some zombie film in which he had no interest. He then discovered that a film had been banned by the student oraganisation for its communist tendencies. The film?: "Gandhi".

10:28PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

This is hard to believe. Next thing showing films will be banned as a complementary activity since the list would turn out extremely long. Imagine, Amistad, Hunger Games, Titanic, etc etc since most good films show some kind of oppression or underclass. Even such classics as One flew over the cuckoo's nest would fly straight out the window. This is sad and devastating.

5:00PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

Personally, it sounds as if a list of the banned books would be a good way to get an education,well rounded and full, of the whole of the matter of 'ethnicity' in the culture you mention. The Roman Catholic Church had a list of 'Banned Books', which I found fascinating, and imagined they would all be critical of the church per se, but when I got to reading them, I found that many targeted the writings of authors, including some very inspiring poets, whose poems gave a far more open and positive view of God's mercy and relations with us mortals, and which the church wanted to suppress as they would tend to make the average person dissatisfied with what the church taught as their beliefs. Fascinating that they should have taught that the earth was the centre of the universe, and everything revolved around us, and when Galileo found by aid of his newly invented telescope that we revolved around the sun, as did the other planets, and then sought to force him to retract that information, and deny that he believed that understanding. The world is not flat, and burning or banning books is an indiot's way of dealing with unpleasant history. Rather face the facts, improve the situation, and work towards better relations and practices, surely. It is a fool who tries otherwise. Reality cannot be denied forever - it will find a way of being rediscovered, and people who will not learn by histories lessons are doomed to make the same mistakes again.

2:14PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

it's ridiculous to ban books! What is the world coming to?

2:11PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

Linda E. Will you please stop shouting your ignorance?
Apologizing to all my friends in Arizona and to all progressives living there. But I do suggest Arizona strongly consider forming their own country because it becomes more and more un-American.
USA is a mixture of cultures from all over the world: Native, European, African, Asian, etc and wouldn't be America if that wasn't the case. It's essential to everyone living in any country to have knowledge of their origin and and to understand the present by reading about history. The US is not America, the continent, but a country in that continent.
Not only does these banning of books scare me, but they are connected to demands that everyone living in the US must become citizens. This is something that no other (democratic) country in the world demands!

9:27AM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

Argh! WHY is this still happening?

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