Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"By The Time I Get To Arizona" -- Public Enemy Had It Right!

First, the attack on immigrants, and now an attack on ethnic studies. From CNN, Arizona Bans Ethnic Studies in Public Schools:

Fresh on the heels of a new immigration law that has led to calls to boycott her state, Arizona's governor has signed a bill banning ethnic studies classes that "promote resentment" of other racial groups.

Gov. Jan Brewer approved the measure without public statement Tuesday, according to state legislative records. The new law forbids elementary or secondary schools to teach classes that are "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" and advocate "the overthrow of the United States government" or "resentment toward a race or class of people.

The bill was pushed by state school Superintendent Tom Horne, who has spent two years trying to get Tucson schools to drop a Mexican-American studies program he said teaches Latino students they are an oppressed minority. There was no immediate response from the Tucson Unified School District, the law's main target.

Brewer's signature comes less than a month after she approved a state law that requires immigrants to carry their registration documents at all times and allows police to question individuals' immigration status in the process of enforcing any other law or ordinance. Critics of the law say it will lead to racial profiling, while supporters say it involves no racial profiling and is needed to crack down on increasing crime involving illegal immigrants.

Thankfully there has been protest to the immigration law, despite the fact that a majority of Arizona residents and slight majority of American citizens support it. The code words that proponents of these measures are using are laced with racism. The immigration law is not supposed to be racist and will supposedly not promote racial profiling...yet, immigrants who are largely Latino are clearly connected to "increasing crime."

Ethnic studies classes supposedly promote tension rather than a sense of pride that is typically erased in America's Eurocentric textbooks. And shouldn't education at all levels be teaching, dare I say, reality? We are supposed to erase how America, among other things, forcibly overtook the Southwest?

Arizona's current political trajectory makes me think of a song by Public Enemy -- "By The Time I Get To Arizona." They had it right (and no, I'm not advocating for any kind of violence; the symbolic message of racial oppression and attendant anger rings true):

(Photo of Arizona Gov Jan Brewer via CNN)

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