Texas community responds to racist Mexican American Studies textbook

Texas community responds to racist Mexican American Studies textbook

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The textbook in question featuring an Aztec dancer many of us have not seen in the Texas danza circles.

Mexican Americans from Texas are no strangers to white supremacy and cultural genocide.  We come from the state with the “special” Texas history books, the ones with the lies they pass off as truths to the millions of first nations children in Texas schools.  The same state with public schools named after slave owners, confederate soldiers, and corporate capitalists.

Two weeks ago the Texas State Board of Education tentatively approved a “Mexican American studies” text produced by a company owned by renown white supremacist, Cynthia Dunbar, who also happens to be a former member of this same board.

Reactions of shock and awe were rampant.  The Texas Observer headlined an article about this disaster in a piece entitled Proposed Mexican-American Studies Textbook: Chicanos Want to ‘Destroy This Society.’  It also made international news via TeleSur in a piece called Texas School Board Proposes Racist Mexican-American Textbook.

Interestingly, this non-factual or reality-based “textbook” is the first from Dunbar’s publishing house.  The book is entitled Mexican American Heritage and features an image of a random Mexica dancer on the cover.  The authors are wasichu, and are unknown in MAS or across the broader Mexican American community in Texas.

Cynthia Dunbar

In recent years MAS has had its share of the national/international spotlight thanks to the years-long battle with the wasichu in Arizona against Mexican American Studies. The battle for MAS in Texas quickly came together, but despite statewide mobilization the State Board of Education refused to incorporate a full MAS class for Texas public school students…although they (interestingly) agreed to regulate a statewide textbook, which Dunbar is trying to have approved.

As could be expected, there was a widespread reaction of disgust from the community as well as folks from across the nation (and abroad) after the Texas Observer piece was published.  Communities around the state began to mobilize to address this issue and will be discussing this issue (and the text itself) at an upcoming statewide summit in San Antonio.  This event will be hosted by the hosted by The National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies (NACCS) Tejas Foco Committee.  (Link for more information:  http://bit.ly/1TtC5lE)

Community leaders, culture workers, and educators had plenty to say about this latest attack against our children:

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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 1: Rosa Tupina Yaotonalcuauhtli” open=”no”]

Name: Rosa Tupina Yaotonalcuauhtli
Title: Spiritual Leader founder of Kalpulli Teokalli Teoyolotl in Austin, Tx

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
My initial reaction when I saw the cover was “this is beautiful”. Once I started reading I felt totally deceived! My reaction then was “esta peor el remedio que la enfermedad”!!

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
I am affected at different levels. I am affected personally because this is an attack to my person and my heritage and my roots as a woman who identifies as a Mexica and claims her indigenous roots, being born in Mexico and being an immigrant to this country. I am affected as a mother and grandmother who has children who are first generation in this country and grandchildren who are second generation. The thought of my grandchildren reading this book in school makes me very angry and my emotions are totally justified because this is a threat to me and my family. It affects me on a community level as a Spiritual leader and as a Professional Woman because my work revolves around empowerment and protection and preservation of our ancestry to maintain our growth with pride and values of worth as a group of people. I could write a dissertation on how it affects me!

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
Because we can not allow the Systems to continue approving this garbage to be fed to our children. It is lethal for their minds and sense of worth as human beings.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
I want to encourage our people to participate in boards and positions of power to stop this nonsense. We are educated and we need to represent nuestra gente if not these are the results. We need to write our own stories! Ya basta! Si no entonces we will see more of these attacks that are not subtle anymore. The sword is out in front of our face! Ya nos sacaron la espada!
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 2: Oscar Gomez” open=”no”]

OscarName: Oscar Gomez
Title: Teacher

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
I am frustrated that decades of research and development of Mexican American history and curriculum were ignored. There is no desire among Chicanos to destroy society. There is a desire to educate our communities regarding our CONTRIBUTIONS to society

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
Whatever is considered Mexican American history or Chicano Studies is the collective stories that tell the narratives of people in my immediate family. I want the world to know the truth about my family without resorting to pseudo-religious paranoia.

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
Because the topics discussed educate and tell the truth about the history of our communities. These truths aim to instill pride and enhance the self-esteem of people in our communities. The paranoid narrative of “destroying society” is incorrect, and should be challenged

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
The only ones destroying society are people like Cynthia Dunbar who spread lies for personal gain
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 3: Gabriel Hugo Sanchez” open=”no”]

Name: Gabriel Hugo Sanchez “The Fluid Chicano”
Title:  Community member

GabrielWebsite http://www.thefluidchicano.com
YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/thefluidchicano23
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fluidchicano/

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
My reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer is that I am glad that there are people watching these folks who are actively trying to suppress an emerging group such as Mexican Americans and Chicanos. I believe they need to be called out as soon as possible when they make statements or when they enact laws that are designed to undercut the efforts and the historical presence of Mexican Americans/Chicanas-os.

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
I am a Mexican American and self-proclaimed Chicano. This affects me directly because it seeks to portray me and people like me as “alien” or “other”. We are American in the fullest sense. I believe that we have been living in an uneasy silence for far too long. The source of our silence for many of us has been a feeling of illegitimacy that these kinds of texts espouse. We have been told from early on that people like us are essentially the enemy, as stated in the proposed textbook that Chicanos “want to destroy this society.”

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
It is concerning that in spite of our tremendous historical contributions there are still individuals running negative narratives about our people. What is worse is that these narratives are, or seek to be, made part of the education system at any level. These narratives are propaganda designed to water down the face of the Chicano and Mexican Americans as a whole by lumping us together with other distinct backgrounds and labeling us “Latinos”.
Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
I believe that this issue and the rhetoric that is part of the presidential race, though it is disgusting and infuriating, represent a unique opportunity for Chicanos, Mexican Americans and other people because any time something is opposed it only grows. I believe we can use the momentum that this push represents to swing back harder, essentially using their push as a catalyst for our launch into a fuller sense of being first class American citizens. Using their force against them. Since the attacks are on the ideological, intellectual, and occupational front, our response should not be to focus on what negative things are being said or who is saying them. But our response should be on demonstrating our accomplishments at all levels of public and private lives. Every time you hear “Mexicans are drug dealers” publications, artists, writers and others should highlight stories of Mexican Americans or Chicanos in police uniforms or as agents combating drug smuggling. Every time you hear “Mexicans are rapists” we should highlight statistics that show that Mexican Americans have strong marital commitments, and stay together longer as nuclear and extended families compared to other groups. Every time you hear someone say Chicanos are destroying this society you should publish stories highlighting the artistic, cinematic, literary, musical, and political advances that Chicanos have contributed to this society; not to mention its significant contribution in blood in every war since the war of Texas independence.
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 4: Monica Jean Alaniz-McGinnis, PhD” open=”no”]

Name: Monica Jean Alaniz-McGinnis, PhD
Title: Scholar & Educator

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
I find it disheartening and sad that a text book that has contributors such as Ms. Dunbar, who clearly have prejudices against Mexican Americans. As a state, we are finally getting to a point where we can present Mexican American Studies to a younger, broader audience, but this text does not present the right type of information and is biased in a negative way towards the very people it is supposed to present in an academic, inspiring way.

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
As someone who has been part of the Mexican American Studies community since I studies Ethnic Studies at UT Austin and as a current program coordinator in Mexican American Studies as well as a member of the RGV Coalition for MAS, I have a vested interest in the way that MAS material is presented to the community. My institution has several dual enrollment classes that might end up using this text book. I have also been part of a coalition that has been trying to get MAS into the high schools in the area and this is definitely not the type of textbook that we had in mind.

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
Studies have shown that students who get culturally relevant education, such as MAS, have better academic success. This is due to the fact that they are finally able to see themselves in a positive light. They see themselves and their ancestors as positive contributors to the American experience. MAS courses do not relegate them and their stories to the background. It would be detrimental to offer MAS courses only to have textbooks that continue to spout the same, negative, sometimes hateful rhetoric, that they already encounter on a day to day basis in their other classes. Individuals who care, understand the history of Mexican Americans, and are well versed in the culture should be the ones contributing to these types of texts, not individuals who have already shown their negative attitude towards the community/culture.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
There are a lot of people who are working very hard to make Mexican American Studies part of the regular curriculum in the K-12 arena. Now that we are finally being given the opportunity to do so, text like this make it so that we are back to square one since the right material has not been included. Has this text even been peer reviewed by scholars in Mexican American Studies? Would it be possible for scholars to request the text for review if we want to do so?
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 5: Guadalupe Medina” open=”no”]

Name: Guadalupe Medina
Title: Educator and poet

www.thepoetmendez.org

www.tinteroprojects.wordpress.com

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
frustration

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
As already part in creating a response to this kind of politicization of education (Re: Librotraficante Movement) it is alarming to see this happening in TX. Seeing it and continually fighting it, is needed and reminds me that collectively, we must be vigilant against this kind of erroneous rewriting of history.
As an educator, I can not stress the need that exists for books, articles, resources created about cultural/ethnic/racial history that is not rooted in 1492. Already, there are too few academic studies done about “ethnic minorities” when it comes to medical/environmental/educational racism, but tons of false narratives. There are not enough academic works collected together about cultural/ethnic/ racial issues that are available for educators to dig into, especially for those of us who teach on the middle school , high school level. As of now, it is piecemeal. Some books we use are older, some books are currently being written, and now, because of “Momentum Instruction” – we will have to create a response to this other false narrative.

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
This “creative work of fiction” from Momentum Instruction might be the “go to” source for any school district wanting to teach MAS – I can put my money on it and bet that this isn’t the only book they will put out. They will want to provide books for Asian-American, African – American, Indigenous -American studies courses. This issue should be of concern to all families in Texas – as someone is controlling the story and its not us…
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 6: Anel I. Flores” open=”no”]

Name: Anel I. Flores
Title: Author. Artist. Realtor.

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
This piece is very informative and they have chosen the appropriately, most problematic statements in this horribly racist, incomplete, classicists, nationalist book.

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
I am affected directly as I have 14 years of teaching behind me, as well as two daughters who have gone through the public and private school system defending their xicana identity, as have I as a writer and artist.

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
because, it is just another textbook that does not provide our xicano population resources to be empowered and knowledgeable of their ancestors and lineage- both which are necessary to provide our children to develop self worth and begin tearing down (institutionalized) shame.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
There a PLENTY of Xicanos who write academic work _Norma Cantu, Rudy Rosales, Antonia Castañeda, Rita Urquijo Ruiz, Sonia Saldivar and many more who could contribute to an anthology that could be used.
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[su_spoiler title=”Community interview 7: Maria” open=”no”]

Name: Maria
Title:  Community member

What is your reaction to the piece in the Texas Observer?
Wow!! So they are giving our kids a book to shut up the parents. Pretty much telling them their version of a messed up history. No real facts no read education. Just give them any whitewashed info to say they gave something. Then they can sweep us back under the rug. Its horrible to think this is the american dream our kids deserve again telling us and our children we dont matter. Wow.

Why is this issue important to you? How are you affected by this?
Im mexican american

Why should the community/the public be concerned about this issue?
Because its time we get included. We have been part of this country since before it began and we will be here tomorrow. Our children deserve to know about their history and the people that came before. Its time. And the rest of the kids need to know the difference between mexican american and “latino”. They need to know we are not just mexican we really are american. They need to know we are not just tacos and beer and cinco de mayo.

Any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about this issue or related topics?
Stop short changing education
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The book is set to be voted on and approved sometime around August.

The community will not sit idly by.  Xica Nation will continue to cover this special topic and update the community on upcoming actions and events.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Usage of the term “wasichu” is not a reference to skin color or “race.”  The word “wasi’chu is Lakota and translates into “takers of the fat.” That word also emphasizes the human path one should not walk in relation to the earth and all creation.  Click here for a more detailed explanation.

Iris Rodriguez

Please support my work: paypal.me/xicamedia Artivist / Writer / Rascuacha Tech / Network Producer at Xica Media / Bio Channels: Xicana Chronicles | End Family Detention | Xica Nation | Tezcatlipoca Records | MTX Files | Yacatsol | Texas UFW 2016

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