Arizona Governor Signs Bill Making Non-White History Illegal

The state that once banned Martin Luther King Jr. Day is back with a bang to ban ethnic studies and teachers with accents.

If there was any doubt about the racial motivations behind SB 1070, look no further than HB 2281— legislation just signed into law by Governor Brewer to prohibit schools from offering courses that advocate ethnic solidarity, promote overthrow of the U.S. government, cater to specific ethnic groups and promote resentment of any groups.

Any non-complying school districts will lose up to 10% of their state funding.

Are we stuck in some sort of weird time warp? Governor Brewer appears to be channeling Governor Wallace from 1960s Alabama, calling to mind old plantations on which enslaved blacks were prohibited from studying.

Governor Brewer might be missing an opportunity here. Ethnic studies classes are probably the best place to go in order to round up and detain young people who may have undocumented status based on “reasonable suspicion.”

What is the official reason behind banning classes that teach people about their unique histories and cultures? State schools chief Tom Horne, a hard-core supporter of the bill, holds that programs like Mexican-American studies in Tucson schools teach Latino students that they are oppressed. Newsflash, Horne: that’s true. And this bill goes some way in proving it, by depriving Latino kids of lessons about their own histories.

Horne’s deputy superintendent Margaret Garcia-Dugan takes issue with a book called Occupied America, which tells the kids that their land was stolen from them. That, of course, is actually historical fact: Arizona was, after all, part of the territory annexed by the United States from Mexico. But it looks like the state of Arizona literally wants to whitewash its historical and cultural origins.

Teaching kids about their unique cultures and histories does not promote resentment towards other groups, which is a purely individual feeling. It promotes understanding of different cultures and institutionalized discrimination.

The legislation is likely to end up in an expensive legal battle.

Photo Credit: indianfilipino

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