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.”
Lui 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?
Time’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?