“But we also banned ‘The Tempest…'”


If you’ve found this post, you’ve likely already read about Tucson’s decision to ban books by Chicano and Native American authors. I don’t doubt that this decision will cause an uprising among Chicanos and Native Americans — but I hope it causes a general uprising (and perhaps en masse purchasing/checking out/lending) of these titles as well, in part because I suspect many people haven’t heard of a number of these authors, and/or haven’t read the titles listed in The Narcosphere article, or many other titles by Native American and Chicano authors.

Here are four books I’d put on the list of books to read that discuss the banned (in Tucson) issues of race, ethnicity, and oppression. I’d love to know your list (please limit it to 3-5 books/podcasts/other) too:

Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Charron

Like Thunder: Poets Respond to Violence in America edited by Virgil Suarez

Blowout!: Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice by Mario T. Garcia

Union of their Dreams by Miriam Pawel

No discussion of race, ethnicity, or oppression — what are the educators in Tucson so afraid of and why, as a country, aren’t we outraged to be represented this way?

I’ve heard rumors that youth groups in Tucson are already beginning to fight back, something to stay tuned for — and to stay open to opportunities to help them in their struggle, which is the burst of a small bubble existing with the large bubble in which we don’t really teach Chicano or Native American literature anyway, in which we create systems where we still mostly teach dead white men and celebrate Thanksgiving (aka mass slaughters & die-offs and land-grabs among other things) in schools.

The justification by the Tucson committee that decided to ban books Chicano & Native American authors that “The Tempest” be banned as well (according to this Salon.com article, we need only not teach about race, ethnicity, and oppression to Chicano students) is a paltry attempt to justified not only continued oppression, but magnified oppression. By banning “The Tempest” (for the record, that wasn’t something I read until after high school — I’d love to know how many of you readers of this post actually read it in high school), somehow everything should be okay–and somehow the students won’t think to rise up? I don’t think so.

In fact, fostering student empowerment over their own education is precisely what Blowout! discusses, albeit with the guidance of a teacher. I hope teachers in Tucson are siding with their students, providing their students with whatever tools & encouragement they can. I hope teachers in Tucson, at least some teachers in Tucson, are taking this cause on as well, deciding that this seizure of books is the perfect opportunity to bring new discussions into the classroom, the school yards, the PTA meetings –wherever they can open grounds to discussing avenues for change and then acting upon them.

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