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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Indigenous Knowledge on Trial: Defending and Defining Mexican-American Studies

Thursday, 12 February 2015 00:00By Roberto Rodriguez, Truthout | Op-Ed
The legal fight over Mexican-American studies in Tucson, Arizona, schools is a culture war, waged by proponents of education rooted in Greco-Roman values and Western civilization against supporters of ethnic studies and MAS, which is anchored by an Indigenous-maíz-based ethos.
By all rights, the plaintiffs in the Mexican-American studies (MAS) trial, known asArce v. Huppenthal, argued on January 12, should prevail. This trumped-up controversy belongs more in the 15th century, before an inquisition, as opposed to theNinth Circuit Court of Appeals.

This case stems from a 2010 lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the anti-ethnic studies HB 2281, which was signed in 2010 by former Arizona governor, Jan Brewer. Under the threat of losing millions of dollars in state funding, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) capitulated to the state and eliminated the highly successful MAS department in 2012.

Their school of thought believes that the right of peoples to their culture, history, identity, language and education is not subject to approval by any court, nor any government body.

While a decision should come within weeks, MAS supporters across the country are not waiting; the battle to expand ethnic studies is intensifying. Though the truth is, this battle has actually been a war, waged since 2006 by the state of Arizona. The former state schools' superintendent, Tom Horne, who was also the "intellectual" author of HB 2281, has led that war, asserting often that he could care less if MAS, which is anchored in an Indigenous-maíz-based ethos, was successful or not. The only thing he was interested in, he said, was ensuring that Arizona students were learning Greco-Roman values, as opposed to knowledge "outside of Western civilization."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Not Counting Mexicans or Indians": The Many Tentacles of State Violence Against Black-Brown-Indigenous Communities

"They tried to bury us, but they didn't know we were seeds." - Popul Vuh

VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK/BROWN-INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES: Normally, I don't add a commentary to what  I write, but I feel a need to here. What I wrote is part of a 65-page article/chapter about violence against Black-Brown-Indigenous Peoples, literally tracing this systemic and epidemic violence to 1492. Here it is condensed, and the opening is a little different from what I originally wrote. In the original, all the deaths from the past few months are at the top. Also, here, I am attaching the photo alluded to at the beginning. 


Between my eyes, I bear a scar in the shape of a "T" that I received on March 23, 1979, on the streets of East Los Angeles. It functions as a reminder that my skull was cracked, but more importantly, that I did not remain silent and that I won two police violence trials, for witnessing and photographing the brutal beating of a young man by perhaps a dozen sheriff's deputies.

These events are seared into my memory because of how I remember them. After coming back to consciousness, amid violent threats, I was handcuffed and left facedown on the cold street, bleeding profusely from my forehead. While in shock and unable to even lift my head, in my own pool of blood, amid flashing red and blue lights everywhere, I could see many dozens of officers giving chase and arresting everyone in sight. What I also witnessed in the reflection of my own blood was everything that I will relay here. For this lengthy article regarding violence against the Black-Brown-Indigenous communities, please go to:

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