Arizona Schools “Confiscate” Mexican American Books, Art

Act now to protect Mexican American studies and books!

photo of book "rethinking columbus"In 2010, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 and effectively ended Mexican-American studies throughout the state—half of whose public school students are Hispanic and Latino/a.

On January 10, 2012, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) complied with HB 2281 and voted to end its widely popular and successful Mexican-American Studies Department.

A few days later, the TUSD ordered a long list of books by Chicano and American Indian authors be removed (in some cases, quite literally) from the hands of teachers and students—boxed and confiscated, along with Chicano posters and art. School district administrators reportedly ordered teachers to avoid the themes of “race, ethnicity, and oppression.” Despite denial that this action constitutes a “banned book list,” the fact is that, no matter what the policy says, these books are being effectively banned: removed from the formal and approved apparatus for educating students.

Topping the list of these 50 “confiscated” books, are:

  • Critical Race Theory, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
  • 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, edited by Elizabeth Martinez
  • Message to Aztlán, by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales
  • Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement, by F Arturo Rosales
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, by Rodolfo Acuña
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
  • Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years, by Bill Bigelow

One district administrator defended the action by denying the relevance of “color” to racism and exclaiming “that Mexico is where Mexican studies is taught, not America!” Of course, the program was Mexican-American studies, and the district has not ended its European studies.

The TUSD has received significant backlash and are beginning to yield ground on the decision. Take action now by contacting TUSD governing board and demanding that this confiscation and effective cessation of Mexican-American cultural studies be reversed.

Phone – (520) 225-6070
FAX – (520) 798-8767
Email Contact: [email protected]
Director of Staff Services, Mary Alice Wallace: [email protected]
President, Dr. Mark Stegeman: [email protected]

Read about the “confiscation”:

Read the poem previously published on Unbound: “All About US,” by Ariana Salazar-Newton, a third-generation Mexican American reflecting on the treatment of Mexican Americans in times of economic crisis.

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