Arizona Strikes Against Latinos Again

Illustration by Andre Koehne

What is with Arizona?  The state has apparently declared war on Latinos.  First, the governor signs an unconstitutional bill into law (S.B. 1070) requiring cops to essentially engage in racial profiling to ascertain a person’s legal status, a law which would disproportionally affect Latinos.  Four other states have passed similar legislation. Second, voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action programs (Proposition 107), despite the University system’s commitment to diversity.   The state also outlawed a Latino literature course taught at a Tuscon High School because it was thought to be “brainwashing” students according to Arizona attorney general, Tom Horne in a New York Times article by Marc Lacey entitled Rift in Arizona as Latino class found illegal. Apparently Horne, who has also been involved in a movement to eliminate ethnic studies programs in the state’s universities, believes the curriculum is not sufficiently Anglo-centric and must therefore be propagandistic.  Those who have complained, object to certain texts used in this class including Paulo Freire’s, Pedagogy of the Oppressed a book Mr. Horne has clearly not read.  If he had read it, he would understand that the book is not in the least bit radical, but rather it touches on a revolutionary way of educating which focuses on making meaningful connections to the lives of students.  This contextualized approach helps one make sense of the world and develop critical thinking skills, a valued trait for senior managers of the corporate world. But if he in fact has read the book,  I imagine the Freirian approach frightens him because it might help young Latino students and anyone else taking the class develop a political consciousness, obtain educational credentials, organize, and get increasingly involved in civil rights causes, which would ultimately threaten the White power structure in the state.

Members of the elite White country club like to conquer and divide.  Were struggling Whites to get a dose of liberation education, they might join forces with Latinos and others regardless of racial or ethnic background, with whom they have more in common than they might think, to push forward a more just society.  Could this be what governor Brewer, attorney general Horne, and the Arizona state legislature fear the most?

By the way, where is Senator McCain in all this?  The “maverick” stood alongside Senator Kennedy several years ago to introduce a reasonable immigration reform bill.  Once a voice of reason, he himself has become more extreme in his views on a range of issues.  Arizona, wake up.  It’s 2011, not 1959.

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