Censoring Chicano culture
Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District has removed books that were published by a UH publishing company series from classrooms in order to comply with state law ARS 15-112.
Two of the seven books being removed from classrooms were published as a part of Arte Público Press’ Hispanic Civil Rights series.
“Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement” by Arturo Rosales and “Message to Aztlán: Selected Writings” by Rodolfo Gonzales were banned, said a UH news release.
Both books deal with the Mexican American civil rights movement, and their removal follows the dismantling of Mexican studies in schools in the beginning of the year.
According to the news release, APP has moved into a larger location at UH’s Energy Research Park. They now have more storage space for books, additional offices for their staff, and room for state-of-the-art book scanners and equipment necessary for working with EBSCO to digitize recovered work written by Latinos from the colonial period to present day.
APP is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Books in the series highlight women’s activism, immigration reform, educational equity, citizen participation in a democratic society, civic culture and racial/cultural relations.
“Twenty-five years ago, our books were stored in university classroom closets, and now they sit in a massive warehouse. But in Arizona, they’re going back into the closet,” said Marina Tristán, APP’s assistant director, in the release.
Faculty members in the history department of UH who deal with Mexican-American history also commented on this recent controversy.
“The decision by the school district to ban Chicano studies courses and ban the books taught is based on the flawed notion that Mexican-American history is not American history,” says Raul Ramos, also an associate professor.
“These policies will have the opposite effect legislators intend, resulting in division and discord rather than unity and mutual understanding.”
By removing records of any single period of history, the school district is keeping its students from fully understanding other historical events, said Monica Perales, an associate professor.
“I am truly saddened by the events taking place in Tucson,” Perales said.
“The thing about history is that there is no single narrative of the past; there are multiple intersecting and sometimes conflicting perspectives. The tragedy here is that not only are Latino students being denied the right to have their history and culture valued, but that all students are going to miss out on understanding the richness and complexity of the American experience.”