High school students from the now-forbidden Mexican American Studies classes in Tucson spoke out during Martin Luther King Day on Monday, protesting the school board and state of Arizona's decision to ban their classes and their culture.
Describing the seizure of books from his classrooms, one student said it was an attempt to "take away our power."
"Knowledge is power," he said, describing how education and knowledge form beliefs and, "who we are." He said school officials entered his classroom and removed all the books.
Another student described how ethnic groups other than Latinos at Tucson schools can still discuss their cultures, while Mexican
American culture discussions are now forbidden. Further, she says her teachers are now "under a microscope" and issues like feminism, oppression and Martin Luther King are forbidden topics.
Students, describing the trauma, said it was as if they were in Nazi Germany.
Tucson schools seized Chicano and Native American books from classrooms after the board voted Tuesday, Jan. 10, to forbid Mexican American Studies, rather than fight the decision by the state school head. The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) board was threatened with the loss of millions of education dollars unless the classes were banned.
Louise Benally, Navajo resisting relocation at Big Mountain on the Navajo Nation, joined students protesting outside the board meeting on Jan. 10.
"It is time to slay the beast," said Benally, pointing out that the
same corporate beast that oppresses and forbids ethnic studies in
Tucson is the same corporate beast poisoning Navajo land with coal mines and coal fired power plants.
Simon Ortíz, Regents Professor, at the Arizona State University Department of English, American Indian Studies, and world acclaimed poet, author, responded to the banning of books by Chicano and Native American authors. "I am very stunned and very shocked
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