Friday, April 30, 2010

Eurocentrism Reigns Supreme: Arizona Legislature Bans Ethnic Studies Programs

States that the Legislature finds and declares that public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.


States that the Legislature finds and declares that public school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.

Prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:

Promote the overthrow of the United States government.

Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.

Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.

Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

States that if the SBE determines that a school district or charter school is offering a course that violates this act, the SBE must direct the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Superintendent) to notify the school district or charter school that it is in violation.

The classroom is and has always been a political space.

This is a textbook example of Eurocentrism and Whiteness in action--and the irony here is priceless. Pursuant to this new law, children of color and their parents in Arizona should sue to demand that funding be cut off to most public schools because from American history to English to Science and the Arts, the curriculum as presently taught devalues people of color, encourages White solidarity, is designed to reinforce Whiteness as the "normal" and "preeminent" state of being, and generates resentment on the part of those left out of America's grand narrative.


Last week Arizona instituted draconian laws that were designed to curb illegal immigration. In an effort to one up themselves, the state legislature has now passed a resolution banning "Ethnic Studies" programs in public schools. Once more, for those of you who are not connecting the dots between white racial resentment and the Tea Party movement; resurgent White Nationalism in the moments since Obama's election; and White anxiety about the "browning of America," here is another data point.

When the tea baggers and the Vox Right Wing Populi harp on about taking "their America back," those dead-enders do in fact want to take America back to the good old days when black and brown folk were silent and obedient--at least as seen by the gaze of the White imagination:

Although this bill is initially limited to public schools, one should make careful note of the language. "Ethnic Studies" is a particular nomenclature that almost universally applies to colleges and universities. On one hand, as someone who loosely works in Ethnic Studies I am emboldened and pleased that the essentially political nature of our work is identified as such by our enemies:

This is validating in a way. However, I am also chilled because this new law signals an increasing escalation in the assault on academic freedom and free thinking in American society. Moreover, these assaults are a further signpost on the road to a corporate, bottom line, lucre and profit oriented approach to higher education that results in lower quality instruction, poorly trained students, and ultimately, a less competitive economy.

There is a frightening coincidence of interests at this moment. The enemies of tenure, those such as David Horowitz and his ilk who rail against "liberal professors," and the minions of folk such as Ward Connerly and others who work lockstep against the "diversity business" are certainly sharpening their knives at the announcement of this new law. How long until they come for private and public universities and colleges?

To what ends will this slippery slope lead? Who will the Know Nothings, and the neo-John Birther tea baggers and their allies come for next?


Werner Herzog's Bear said...

This is yet another manifestation of "blood and soil" nationalism, which has gotten entrance into the mainstream due to the Tea Party movement.

My only comfort is that these reactionaries are trying to hold back the tides of immense change and they will eventually be flooded. In the meantime, things might get scary.

chaunceydevega said...

Mr. Bear they are coming for us all. They know the academy, as damaged as it is, remains one of the few relatively free spaces for some type of critical thought.

Are they on the move in Texas?


Big Man said...

I just saw this and had to write about it.

What's curious, is that given the things the law is supposed to prevent, shouldn't the Tea Party members be proof that regular old American History is just as big of a problem as ethnic studies?

If the Tea Party isn't a hotbed of misguided talk of revolution, separtism, resentment and sedition, I don't know what is.

Thelonious said...

Identity politics is bad when the identities involved are non-white people. When it comes to out-and-out white racism, it's not so bad.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

@Big man--You want consistency out of those fools. Come on. They should be protesting the Arizona Law and Joe Lieberman if they had any integrity.

@Thelonious. You didn't know that the only identity politics worth playing are those for white Conservatives. Wake up brother ;)