"Instead of seeing Hispanics as outsiders who do not belong here, we need to start seeing them as ancestors of the original inhabitants of these lands. They are the living fulfillment of the Ghost Dance prophecy." - Chief Billy Redwing Tayac, Piscataway Nation
How does it feel to have one of your books banned in Arizona? In part, it feels good. It proves that we have said something that the authorities found dangerous. And they could not have found it dangerous if they had thought that it was untrue--in that case they would merely have ignored or refuted it. Instead, they fabricated patently false reasons for boxing up our book, along with six others, and sending it to a distant book depository.
From the country of “freedoms,” the self-proclaimed defender of justice and international rights, from the country that fought against fascism in the 20th Century, from the country that has waged its latest wars by brandishing people’s rights to self-determination, from the country that has been built by immigrants—that is where the banning of several books, including one of my own, has originated, books snatched from students because the law deemed them detrimental.
By Rodolfo F. Acuña
When the great Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit-ups he did, he responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.”
These words resonate in Tucson, where Latina/o students are fighting for an education by sitting-in in the office of Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone, walking out of classes, demonstrating, and taking to the streets.
Shame on the Tucson Unified School District for banning several books by Chicano and Native American authors. This is a psychological assault on the students and their families in a school district where more than 60 percent of the students are Latinos.
By Martín Espada
Not long ago, I read an article by Matt Rothschild on The Progressive website called, "Banned in Tucson." This was the first time I had seen the actual reading list of the forbidden Mexican-American Studies Department.
One of my own books, Zapata's Disciple: Essays (South End Press, 1998), is on the list. Indeed, this book has been banned before—by the Texas state penal system, on the grounds that it might incite the inmates to riot.
Let's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I'm pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I'm also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world.
It's happened before.
When Europeans invaded the Americas, they took our books away and claimed they were civilizing us.
They wanted to take our right to determine our fates away.
They wanted to inflict their point of view and their version of reality on us.
They wanted to marginalize us as indigenous people who needed their guidance.
I had two books on the banned list—The Magic of Blood and Woodcuts of Women—so I’m very honored. I’m humbled. I have worked all my adult life trying to be an important writer in America and to our community, so I want to thank (Gracias, gracias!) the state of Arizona for its recognition. Although I was a little disappointed—we are ambitious peoples—that my new book didn’t get any attention. But in time, they’ll hate that, too.