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May. 12 2010 - 6:44 pm | 847 views | 0 recommendations | 11 comments

Arizona follows Texas’ lead in whitewashing education

PHOENIX - APRIL 23:  Demonstrators protest a n...

Image by Getty Images North America via Daylife

You know what Arizona hasn’t had enough of lately? Racist bullshit. Oh, wait. But as if its xenophobic new immigration law weren’t enough (the Los Angeles City Council voted today to boycott the state because of the measure), today Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill banning ethnic studies programs in Arizona schools.

With stupendous irony, the bill declares that students “should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.” But how will students ever learn to value one another and appreciate their differences if not through education and exposure to cultural history? If all they’re being taught is that some people’s parents can get pulled over for having brown skin, and provided only with a whitewashed version of history that presumes the history of white people is the default history of everyone, won’t they indeed be groomed to “resent or hate other races or classes of people”?

As Adam Serwer wisely pointed out over at The American Prospect, “It may seem more intuitive to think that personal experiences, political rhetoric, and laws targeting certain ethnic groups — like Arizona’s recently passed immigration law — may be the cause of racial resentment among minorities. But to conservatives, it’s actually that minorities believe whatever white people tell them, and if they can get rid of these nasty ethnic studies classes then resentment will go away.”

A specific ethnic studies program taught at the Tucson Unified School District is purportedly the target of the law, and stamping it out has been a cause for state schools chief Tom Horne, reports Talking Points Memo, who thinks the program encourages “ethnic chauvinism” among Latino students. But that assumes that the only people who take ethnic studies classes are ethnic minorities themselves – a pretty glaring misunderstanding of how public school programs work.

The move follows a set of controversial, and shameful, changes to social studies curriculum in the state of Texas that similarly whitewashes education by altering how the Civil Rights movement is taught, among other things, and de-emphasizing figures like Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez.

Of course, Texas and Arizona both have some of the most diverse school districts in the nation. And yet, here is Arizona, banning programs that “prohibit classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group” — because of course ethnic studies are designed for a certain ethnic group – why the hell would white kids want to learn about brown kids? (Obviously, as a blonde, I only ended up in so many black culture classes in college because I’m too dumb to figure out those pesky registration forms!)


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    This article saddens me in many levels and demonstrates the complete lack of understanding and appreciation for what this great country was founded on. It also shows a total disregard for our fellow americans who fought and died for ALL american people to live in this great land under the AMERICAN flag, and a genuine lack of historical understanding. America was born as a “melting pot” of a wide array of ethnic groups who wanted to leave their depressed and oppressive countries to find freedoms and the opportunity for a better life. (Most likely the same reason why there are the millions of people who have illegally entered and are living in America – for a chance at a better life). As long as we continue to look at people by skin color, as Sara Libby did with her statement “why the he** would white kids want to learn about brown kids?” Your answer to that is because they are all KIDS, that is why. The focus should be on the person, not the skin color, right? Isn’t that why the writer is upset with Arizona and she started out her article with the words “Rascist B%^&Sh*t”? Everyone in America should want to know about the traditions and cultures of all the ethnicities so they can have a better appreciation for their brother and sister AMERICANS. The first step of developing respect for one another is by understanding and acknowledging the beautiful differences we all possess. Because I want to know the TRUTH and do not want to be manipulated by the emotions/opinions or hidden agendas of others, I will read the entire bill and do some historical research on what led up to it before forming my opinion. However, this writer’s slant on this article demonstrates to me that perhaps their truly is a need for the bill Arizona signed yesterday. (I would be curious to know if the writer actually read both of the Arizona bills and did some fact seeking before writing her opinion / slant in this article.) What I do find ironic is that this writer blantantly displays the same discrimnatory and rasicst attitude that she is upset with Arizona for. The bottom line is we are AMERICANS first. We live in AMERICA. A house divided can not stand. For our country and way of life to continue, Solidarity needs to occur as AMERICANS. AMERICANS who comprise the wide variety of different walks of life. If this country is every to recover from our current economic downfall and civial unrest, we must start working together as AMERICANS.

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      They have really gotten you people good with that reverse racism scheme. Or you just didn’t actually read what she wrote; you saw her “slant” and it drove you wild, even as far as you calling Sarah a racist. You do go read that history and find out what “ethnic studies” actually is. Seriously, because you seem a bit tied up by the talking points.

      Just keep in mind that YOUR story is not OUR story, just like the stories of the Irish is not that of the German or Englishman that came here.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Uh huh.

      Colour blindness does not fix racism, it just ignores it.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    I’m in the second day of my boycott of Los Angeles which is boycotting Arizona

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      I’m sure the city fathers in LA are taking your boycott seriously, andylevinson. Thing is, how seriously will AZ take LA’s boycott?

      And to address “American”: Well, I can’t. because the only consistency in your post is that you feel the need to capitalize AMERICA to demonstrate what a great AMERICAN you are. Plus, I don’t think you actually read Sara’s article.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    The politicians declare that students “should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.”

    Oh yeah? Have those same politicians listened to any of their own rhetoric?

    Talk about hypocrisy!

  4. collapse expand

    As someone who grew up in Eisenhower’s post war America I can tell you that our history was white washed well into the mid-seventies. In high school my history teacher was put on notice for suggesting that George Washington was a bit of a dandy who liked to have his white horse powered for public rides. It wasn’t until advent of various civil rights movements that Native Americans, Latinos and Women questioned the white protestant view of America and demanded a fair hearing in the debate over our history.

    We survived the first white wash because young Americans wanted the truth about their country. Texas and Arizona can deny the realities of our culture all they want but their view is futile and only appeals to the simple minded. My generation turned against our elders because we felt we were being lied to and you cannot trust liars no matter how noble their intentions.

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    I sort of agree with Libby’s general points, but as a long time Tucson resident I will say that there are elements of Latino cultural chauvinism that show up in local politics, education, and business, and there is a tendency to teach masturbatory “Aren’t Chicanos Awesome?!” units in the area’s schools.

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    I'm a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focusing on pop and politics, race and culture, and where Gen-Yers fit into it all. My writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, WashingtonPost.com, the San Francisco Chronicle and People magazine. Among other things, I'm Oregon-born, hip-hop-addicted, and weirdly optimistic that the journalism business will stay alive.

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