Arizona: Ethnic Studies a Threat to U.S. Government

ethnic-childIs non-White history the new WMD?

Is learning to take pride in brown history a deadly bomb aimed at the White House?

According to the state of Arizona, both these acts are potential threats to the U.S.  government.

As reported by Indian Country Today Media Network, the state’s new ethnic studies ban equates the teaching of ethnic studies with “promoting the overthrow of the U.S. government.

The ban also describes the further “dangers” of any studies which may cause “resentment toward a race or class of people, along with those designed for students of a specific ethnic group or to advocate ethnic solidarity.”

However, Eric Liu, in a recent report for Time Ideas, points out that “The ban also implicitly assumes that whites are not even a race or ethnic group subject to the terms of the ban, that whiteness, as the invisible norm, just is.”

burning-ethnic-studies-at-the-stakeLui also adds that, “The white politicians who enacted the anti-immigrant “attrition” law” are attempting to whitewash history. They simply didn’t like the idea of teachers telling students the apparently subversive facts that nonwhite people have at times suffered at the hands of white people, or that people of every color have at times acted with color-conscious solidarity. This is a shameless kind of censorship, oozing anti-Hispanic animus.”

With the ban now in place, Debra Norris, director of the Arizona Dept. of Education’s Office of Indian Education, is receiving torrents of calls from Arizona’s Native American parents as well, worried about their children losing an education that “gives them a sense of who they are and their part in America’s past, present and future.

Norris, in response, cited the Indian Education Act of 2006 – whose purpose is to support Native American studies – pointing out that “there is not supposed to be a connection between this new bill and Indian education history courses.

But what of other ethnic students whose history is now forbidden by a ban whose authors are now pushing to extend the ban to state colleges?

arizonas-ethnic-studies-ban-whitewashes-historyTime’s Lui points out that the claims made of the danger of ethnic studies are “made by a bloc of whites whose identity feels threatened by the changing look and sound of their neighbors. Their sense of siege rises in direct proportion to the brownness and redness of the population.”

The problem with the ban is that it pretends that America has never had conflicts fueled by race. It silences those who point out the bad and the ugly along with the good. Using the power of state to forbid discussion of complexity is what insecure dictators do.”

Says Liu, “There will always be people like this who live in fear. Their fear, however, is contagious. What makes or breaks a community is whether enough people step forward to face history and themselves.


How do you feel about Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies?

Do you worry that such ethnic-based censorship may spread further throughout our democratic nation?

Or is it much ado about nothing?


World News Wednesday


13 thoughts on “Arizona: Ethnic Studies a Threat to U.S. Government

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  4. “Whitewashing” history is a long and well-established tradition. History books are always written by the victor. I learned the history of WW II by reading books written by white Americans. Nowhere were any of us offered the opportunity to read about the conflict from the view of the Third Reich. Nor did we read anything about how FDR (no great advocate of civil rights) authorized the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in interment camps.

    If there is a wry bright side to this it is that with our academic standards and achievements continuing their steep decline, it is unlikely that, whatever the curriculum, our students are unlikely to absorb much of it. Perhaps when they get out of school they can do some worthwhile research on their own.

  5. There is such a desperate effort to have ethnic studies in the Miami Dade School System. Mandates come out for this, then for that. The joke is the district is 95% minority and 5% white so it’s really quite silly. African American, 3rd generation Cuban, Haitian, Jamaican, Trinidad and Bahamas. South American Hispanic, Jewish and Asian. A large part of our population is mixed race as well.

    • I didn’t know a form of this was happening in Miami, too. And you’re right, it’s silly. Especially considering that the majority of the population there is made up of minorities!

  6. OK – smack down on Arizona! Living in a border state, I’m concerned about unchecked illegal immigration. My husband, who became a citizen the hard way, resents politicians who want degrade citizenship by giving it away. However, the history of America, in many ways, is the extension of the bad habits of Europe – with imperialism, slavery, racial prejudice and a whole lot of other things. Those who do not study history (all of it) are bound to repeat the worst parts of it and never learn from the good parts.

    • You’ve got that right – smackdown on Arizona! And, hopefully, your wise words will penetrate Arizona’s ignorance: “Those who do not study history (all of it) are bound to repeat the worst parts of it and never learn from the good parts.”

  7. I think it is shameful and dangerous. Just beause you don’t teach kids about the horrific treatment of non-wites throughout US history, does not make that history go away. I can’t believe the things coming out of Arizona lately. Thanks for a great post on an important issue.

    • You’re welcome! And you’ve made an excellent point: nasty portions of history cannot be erased by not teaching it. Unfortunately, Arizona has succeeded in doing just that. Hopefully, for the sake of freedom of speech in our democracy, this travesty will not spread…

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