In January 2012 the books listed below were removed from classrooms in Tucson as part of HB 2281, the Arizona state law that bans Mexican American Studies. Tucson’s public schools are 62% Latino. Books were even taken right out of students’s hands! Some were crying. Some said it made them feel like they were in Nazi Germany.
The seven most dangerous books in Arizona:
Elizabeth Martinez, ed: “500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures” (1990) – Mexican American history told in pictures, poems and the words of activists like Gloria Anzaldua. In English and Spanish. Put out to “celebrate” the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing, speaking “with grief and bitter truth but also joy and pride.” Students were particularly shocked to see this book being taken away.
Paulo Freire: “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (1968) – how to teach without brainwashing, education as liberation not indoctrination of the oppressed. It is in effect Freire’s answer to Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” (1961). Banned in South Africa under apartheid. White authorities in Arizona seem to regard this as the most dangerous one.
Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic: “Critical Race Theory” (2001) – seeks to understand the nature of race, racism and power in America and how to change them for the better. Among other things it says:
- Race is a social construct.
- Racism is ordinary and everyday.
- The American power structure serves only the interests of whites (institutional racism).
- Colour-blind policies can strike down only the most extreme cases of racism.
Rodolfo Corky Gonzales: “Message to Aztlán” (1997) – the epic poem “I Am Joaquín” and other writings by this civil rights leader.
F Arturo Rosales: “Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement” (1997) – History of Chicano civil rights. Made into a four-part PBS documentary.
Rodolfo Acuña: “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” (2004) – If you read only one book on Chicano history, this is the one! Acuña is a highly respected Chicano historian. His book is now in its seventh edition.
Bill Bigelow: “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years” (1998) – Articles and ideas for teaching Columbus to students of all ages. Presents Columbus through the eyes of Native American writers. Bigelow is another author that was banned under apartheid in South Africa (probably because he put a speech by Nelson Mandela in one of his books).
The 43 other books that were part of Mexican American Studies were to be removed too. Among them:
- Shakespeare: The Tempest (1611) – can be read as an allegory on colonialism. Oops!
- James Baldwin: “The Fire Next Time” (1963)
- Ronald Takaki: “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America” (1993)
- Howard Zinn: “A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present” (2003)
- Howard Zinn: “Declaration of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology” (1990)
- Che Guevarra: “At the Afro-Asian Conference in Algeria” (1965)
- Sherman Alexie: “Ten Little Indians” (2004)
- Matt de la Pena: “Mexican White Boy” (2008)
- Luis Alberto Urrea: “The Devil’s Highway” (2004)
- Elizabeth Martínez: “De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views Multi-Colored Century” (1998) – recommended by Angela Davis and Howard Zinn
- José Antonio Burciaga: “Drink Cultura: Chicanismo” (1992)
- Sandra Cisneros: “House on Mango Street” (1991)
- Gloria Anzaldua: “Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza” (1999)