Of all days, Arizona chose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to break the news that its war on Mexican-American studies courses – which the government has decided catered exclusively to Mexican students and fostered anti-American thinking – had extended to book bannings, with the threat multi-million dollar fines should a high school not comply. The books, the state legislature says, promote the idea that “Latino minorities have been and continue to be oppressed by a Caucasian majority.” Forcibly silencing their voices is the proper solution.
Apparently Arizona is unaware that banning a book just makes more people want to read it, and that’s exactly what you should do – Remezcla recommends that you not put up with Arizona’s shit. As such, we’ve put together this guide to the books they’ve banned, complete with links to buy them. Support the authors. Learn your history.
Used as a textbook in Arizona for about twenty years, Rethinking Columbus even includes an essay by local Tucson writer Leslie Silko. The book promises to reposition Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas and “help readers replace murky legends with a better sense of who we are and why we are here — and celebrates over 500 years of the courageous struggles and lasting wisdom of native peoples.” The book even contains a mock trial of the explorer and special material for Thanksgiving Day.
Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuña
A “passionately written and extensively researched” overview of Chicano history, Occupied America is the definitive textbook used in Mexican-American studies courses. Published forty years ago, it begins in Mesoamerican times, continues through the conquest by the Spanish and the development of Mexico as a nation, and continues all the way through to modern times and issues of immigration, migrant work, and the fight for equality. Check out the video below of the author speaking out against his book’s ironic banning.
Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado
Critical race theory involves the study of how race and power intersect and diverge, particularly in the United States. Primarily, it is the study of how racial supremacy and power is reflected and preserved in the creation of laws. The theory began as an issue in law schools, but has since branched out to psychology, sociology, and other related theoretical disciplines. The most recently published book on this list, the rather straightforwardly titled Critical Race Theory is the first compendium of the principles of this theory, written by the theory’s founders. It’s fascinating reading for anyone interested in the question of the place of minorities in the United States…and that’s why it was banned.
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
I know what you’re thinking: “Shakespeare was an old English dude, right? What does he have to say about la raza?” Well The Tempest, which was written around 1610 (well after the British colonized America) and was Shakespeare’s last play, is about a crew of Europeans who wind up on an island inhabited by an old wizard named Prospero and his daughter Miranda. Turns out Prospero and Miranda were European, too, but they were banished to this island, where Prospero used his magic and learning to subjugate the magical creatures already living there, kill their leader – a witch named Sycorax – and make them his slaves. Ariel is his loyal servant whom he has promised to free; Caliban (an anagram for “cannibal”) on the other hand, is much more upset about the whole situation. Still not convinced? Check out this speech:
“This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, / Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,/ Thou strokedst me and madest much of me… / … /…and then I loved thee / And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle, / The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile: / Cursed be I that did so! All the charms / Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you! / For I am all the subjects that you have, / Which first was mine own king: and here you sty me / In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me / The rest o’ the island.”
In other words: “Who are you to tell me what to do? I ruled this place, and showed you the ropes and took care of you when you first got here, but now you make me serve you and keep me from the land that was already mine.” See why it’s not so popular with the Arizona government? It’s no secret that the guy who wrote Othello (in which a great black general is driven mad by his jealous white lieutenant, who tells him that his white wife can’t love him because he’s black) and The Merchant of Venice (in which a Jewish merchant tries to enact horrible bloody revenge on the antisemites around him) wasn’t always fond of the way Europeans treated people different from themselves. If you’re reading this, and you’re in Arizona, do everyone a favor and don’t just read The Tempest, try to get it produced. Make the characters conquistadors, except for half-demon Caliban, who should be an Aztec feathered serpent. Go ahead. Take that idea. You don’t even have to give me credit for it.