By Contributor on January 27, 2012

By Luis Alberto Urrea

It is a baffling thing to encounter racist runoff from the toxic waste dump of the power elite. The entire slaughter of Mexican American Studies by the TUSD and the good state of AZ is an end-game of the shenanigans of the Arpaiocracy that unleashed such brilliant Going Out of Business polices as the anti-Beaner SB 1070. Their explanation is that the books weren't "banned," but merely "boxed." Perhaps, back in Germany, books weren't "burned," merely "incensed."

The issue seems to be the power boys and girls are afraid that studying MacArthur winning Tohon O'odam poet Ofelia Zepeda is un-American. Cult-like. Divisive. Yes, that's right--Indians are out too. Sherman Alexie, that notorious wetback, has been ba--ed, boxed. As well as that notorious narco, Guillermo Shakespeare. Thoreau--well. Come on. When isn't Thoreau banned? I hereby make him an Honorary Homeboy.

It's the last grip of a pasty, sticky tentacle, Cthulhu-like, stretching from the retiree and snowbird enclaves of Oro Valley and Sun City. The false belief is that ethnic studies ghettoizes students; the reality is that these classes often take students out from under the tentacle and open the gateway to the panoply of American literature and history. Inclusion, rather than segregation. I would think it's segregation that divides us. Of course, the squid-like elder gods of the TUSD might be angry about the whole civil rights thing those crazy kids got into in the 60s.

AZ is a great state. They love literature. Believe me. But the arcons from beyond do not. Still, you know, it's a 61% Latino district. In case the TUSD is a little weak on scholarship, one might be patient and point out that there are more of the silenced that there are of the silencers. Great Mexican poet Jaime Morrison once sang: “They've got the guns, but we've got the numbers.”

Now, you must excuse me. Newt just informed me that Spanish is a ghetto language. And Mitt has asked me to self-deport. I'm going to self-deport as soon as I can find a Mexican American Studies class to explain in real language what the rules are.

Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of fourteen books, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Two of his books, “By the Lake of Sleeping Children” and “Nobody’s Son,” both of which are on the banned curriculum of Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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