Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tucson Uprising for Ethnic Studies

In case you haven't already seen footage of the lockdown at the TUSD (Tucson) meeting by a group of students calling themselves UNIDOS, here is a video of the action.  The ethnic studies program has been under attack recently.

From my distanced position, it has seemed that the movement to defend ethnic studies has shied away from outright accusing standard education as racist.  Even as a white person, I feel that my education was indoctrination into this white supremacist, colonialist, sexist capitalist society by telling us blatant lies or half-truths and lots of omissions.  Why didn't I learn about Malcolm X or any number of important figures who represent a threat to the mentality that the education system is meant to maintain? 

You might also listen to Tim Wise on this video in which he makes some interesting points about white people not wanting brown students to know their real history or they might hate white people.

I imagine that what is taught in the ethnic studies classes are much closer to the truth than other classes.  But because proponents of ethnic studies are accused of reverse racism and promoting hate of the US government, people are going to tend to avoid giving anyone any more evidence to back up these accusations.  Reverse racism is a crock, and I hope Nonetheless, I would also like to add that someone (I'm pretty sure it was Linda Paloma Allen) made the point in an indigenous panel recently that often the book "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos" is used in these ethnic studies classes, and while this book has a lot of valuable information, it marginalizes the local indigenous folks (like the O'odham).  Although they are not Chicanos, if you're going to write a book called "Occupied America", do a little bit better job of representing those who were occupied in America (and by Mexico previously).  I read the book a few years ago, and hadn't quite noticed this, but as I re-read parts of it when I was working on writing something about the "Baja Arizona" idea (which also had a proposed name of "Gadsden" which is lacking in any consideration of context), and did notice quite an omission.  Of course it is believable that a lot of information is readily available, but something tells me it could've been included.  And given that some folks find it so easy disregard the local struggles of indigenous people, if anyone is going to teach or read the book they should find some supplemental materials.

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