Why Chicano/a studies matters

This week at the archive we have photos of the students in Tucson Arizona fighting to keep Chicano/a studies programs. Presently the program and the books used in the programs are banned. This ban includes Shakespeares the Tempest. Since this ban, earlier this year, the teachers have entered into a lawsuit to fight for the right to teach Ethnic Studies in the Tucson Unified School District. These events along with many other anti Mexican sentiment legislation has made Arizona known as “ground zero” for civil liberties and the right to preserve ourselves through language, books, music, art and customs. Many of the students art was also boxed up and placed away with the books. Many critics believed that Ethnic studies created racial hatred towards anglos. The truth is that Ethnic studies created pride in a group of people whose language and cultura was beat out of them by racist teachers, cops and legislation. The Ethnic studies program in Tucson was created to raise high school graduation rates. The program has been so successful in these efforts that it threatened the very establishments that gain financially by having Mexican youth incarcerated instead of in school. The efforts to reestablish the program are ongoing as most struggles for social justice and human rights take years sometimes decades. In the SER records we found a letter written over two decades ago by our former curator which shows her efforts to preserve this and other chicano/a collections.

Martha Armendariz

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