Demand Multicultural Education

And not just in public schools, though this post, too, will focus on the Arizona book ban I wrote about earlier today. I suspect as news unfolds about this–as I see debates beginning to emerge on Facebook and other places in the interwebs, people will start to talk more about the ban. I hope they’ll talk more about the ban. I hope they get angry about the ban, because I’m angry — and I’m angry not only for the students affected, but for the students (past & present) who don’t realize that they’re not really being given a multicultural education, the students who believe that talking about a sanitized version of MLK (how appropriate that this story is really breaking today, even though news about it has trickled forth over the past couple of days) and getting maybe a paragraph or two on certain high-profile Native Americans & Malcolm X is a “multicultural” education.

I was one of those students, and from what I’m learning from friends on Facebook, a lot of us are those kids–grown-up, or not. Let’s demand that schools actually teach about oppression so that we don’t perpetuate oppression. Pretending that it doesn’t exist, not acknowledging the reasons one group might resent another, doesn’t make it so these problems don’t exist.

And look at the books that made the list. A Pueblo author, Debbie Reese, has posted a list of the books that have been banned on her blog and is continuing to update that particular post as she learns more information. As she points out:

In their (perhaps) unspoken words, thinking critically about America is dangerous and threatening to the existing power structure.

Very much so. People wonder what’s going on in Arizona, why Arizona’s so blatantly racist & anti-immigration. I’ve seen this discussion for months, to the point that it’s become a bit of a joke. But that type of “us-versus-them” attitude is exactly what allows it to perpetuate not only in Arizona but elsewhere. Anti-_________ mandates are occurring all over the country, and to various groups of people who don’t fit into the existing power structure, and in fact, are threatening that very power-structure.

What scares me is that so much of this discussion seems (at least from my point of view and I admit my own guilt in this) to taking place on the internet, where that anger might lead to consciousness-raising, but doesn’t (necessarily) lead to action and at this point, action is what’s needed. We need to get this discussion off the Facebook threads, out of the college classrooms, and onto the streets, not just in Tucson, but all over the country. Some of us are in positions to do this better than others — there are a lot of factors that play into direct-action activism, but I ask you to do what you can. I ask that of myself. We can do this without getting hung up on degrees and “qualifications.” We can–and should–demand changes before things get worse.


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