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Ethnic Studies Targeted in Arizona

Here we go again.  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill targeting school district’s ethnic studies programs.  “The bill prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group” (AP).  The bill appears to specifically target Latino ethnic studies programs.

Now, on the surface, many Americans would interpret this law as reasonable.  My question would be if this also applies to the curriculum on American history.  Does it then allow for the discussion of the long history of white supremacy practiced by the American government towards Africans, Indigenous Peoples, Chinese, Japanese, Latino’s, and the list goes on.  Are teachers teaching the true history of America?  Do ethnic studies classes include discussions of the white culture?

For instance, does the Arizona schools curriculum address President Theodore Roosevelt’s hatred of Indigenous Peoples?  In his book, The Winning of the West, he wrote:           

 “The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, (American Indigenous Peoples-writer added) though it is apt to be also the most terrible and inhuman.  The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him.  American and Indian, Boer and Zulu, Cossack and Tartar, New Zealander and Maori, - in each case the victor, horrible though many of his deeds are, has laid deep the foundations for future greatness of a mighty people.”

In a speech given by T. Roosevelt in January 1886 he said:           

“I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the Western view of the Indian.  I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.  The most vicious cowboy has more moral principal than the average Indian.”

It is clear that T. Roosevelt had a hatred of American Indians and felt that the Indian Wars were just and that taking their land was in line with making America great.  We have immortalized Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore.  What does that tell Native Americans?  Will Arizona schools be allowed to teach the true history of one of our past Presidents or does this “promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group”?

I believe that this new Arizona law is clearly aimed at Latino/a culture.  It smacks of intolerance and racial bias.  The politically dominate and powerful white culture of Arizona clearly aims to keep its power and limit the development of the Latino/a cultural pride as evidenced in the passing of this latest law.  It is clear to me that whites in power in Arizona will do everything possible to keep the Latino/a culture from becoming a powerful member of the political process within their state.  Latino/a's in Arizona should interpret this latest law as being aimed directly at them and their culture.

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