!A Viva Voz! "Questionable Content" the Banned Books of Ana Castillo and Carmen Tafolla



good evening and welcome to the 16th annual Aviva vas event here at the net Ely Benson latin american collection with over 1 million materials dedicated to the study of u.s. Latino and Latin American cultures we have worked hard to distinguish ourselves as perhaps the preeminent library dedicated and committed to all things Latin America and us Latino I will also say quickly that we are the only library dedicated to such materials that is its own standalone library in the United States and Canada so you're in good you're in a good place tonight and this is a good place to be and I think we work very hard here to make this a very inclusive and welcoming place for our patron populations so I would encourage all of you to continue using the Bentson my name is Daniel Urbino I am the librarian for u.s. Latino and Latina studies here at the Bentson and this is in fact my first Aviva voz but I think it's going to be a very good one I think it's going to be very powerful tonight tonight we celebrate the freedom of speech broadly speaking and more specifically we celebrate the December 2017 court ruling that declared the banning of mexican-american studies in Arizona to be unconstitutional yeah all right because in order to celebrate Latino arts and culture which is what a Viva voz is all about we need the producers of culture to keep producing and with Ana Castillo and Carmen Tafolla here there is no shortage of that literary output we need our cultural producers to produce but we also need the materials to be accessible for our scholars both young and old that accessibility is why we fight laws like Arizona's HB 2281 and that accessibility is why we at the Bentson come to work every day with an energy to get things done tonight I have the honor to introduce someone I greatly admire dr. Angelo Valenzuela who will be our moderator and facilitator for the program dr. Valenzuela is a professor in the department of educational leadership and policy at UT where she impacts our students on a daily basis but her work stretches even beyond the state of Texas she also directs the national Latino education research and policy project that aims to create a teacher education pathways for Latino and Latino youth nationally on top of all of that she has managed to be the author of several books such as leaving children behind how Texas style accountability fails Latino youth and growing critically conscious teachers a social justice curriculum for educators of Latino and Latina youth perhaps her most seminal text to date I would be remiss if I didn't mention this of course is the award-winning subtractive schooling us Mexican youth and the politics of caring even though this book did not make the notorious banned books list in Arizona of which two are two authors here tonight have three books on that list we consider that more of an oversight on Arizona's part the book was referenced a number of times when the legislation HB 2281 was was put into place and which dismantled Mexican American Studies programs fortunately since that time dr. valenzuela's voice has been heard when she testified as an expert witness in favor of Mexican American Studies programs in the summer of 2017 her testimony evinced the benefits that Mexican American Studies classes have on students noting that those who participate in the program often perform better than those that don't we truly couldn't have asked for a better facilitator for this evening someone who has been on the front line of this struggle from the very beginning so without further ado I turn the mic over to dr. Valenzuela please give a round I was so kind thank you for that wonderful introduction it's been quite a journey and as I am contemplating my remarks the few that I have this evening it's hard to not imagine the context that we're in here in Texas as well as throughout the southwest our knowledge our culture our languages they're subjugated right we're subjected regularly it's it's so part of how education is done that we even take it for granted we don't even realize that we're being discriminated against when we are being discriminated against and that has to do with a decades-long agenda sometimes explicit sometimes implicit – to basically eliminate our voices to eliminate our power it's a decision to not empower right why would anyone ban books why would anyone end a program that was demonstrably resulting in higher academic achievement and college going race how does that make sense in any sense of a fair and just and hopeful world it only makes sense if what your agenda is is to disempower and to take away power from our our children and our communities and on the frontlines our teachers our teachers in in Arizona that they along with their students stood up to this they took along the state of Arizona at great risk and a great cost to themselves personal cost and what I find fascinating and I'm of course anticipating the April 11th convening of the State Board of Education that is next week and I hope that all of you go that's where you see the chorizo and how it gets made in in our world right I mean it's it's there's nothing you know Jesus didn't write this curriculum that we have that we call state standards right or that we call Common Core that doesn't come out of the Bible that's not Jesus it's individuals that make decisions and that structure those decisions by by crowding out our histories our stories our narratives in the system McQuade and of course it's caught up with political representation it's a catch-22 if you don't have the political representation then you can't make change right but if you have the political representation then well I mean sometimes it you can make change but it requires a lot of effort and it requires a lot of continuing struggle and sacrifice for our community so that's what we're facing keep your eyes on I mean them in the papers it's a high-profile battle here in the state of Texas what's really awesome being part of this this legacy agenda is it does go back to our elders right I know I'm becoming an elder in this struggle so but I'm you know I'm still aspiring to be the elder that I that I hope to become that that certainly our two panelists embody that they embody that they exude in their own power they're both as Mujeres artists us see escrito us and and as individuals that have been on the front line of this struggle since since the beginning of the of the movimiento and so if we think about more recently what you had in in 2006 were was this moment you had dorota's Wetty who she gets blamed for everything right but she makes these comments about about Republicans Haiti Latinos in Arizona but you know what's going on in 2006 they blamed her okay believe it or not they blamed her for starting this animus against the public schools Tom Horne in particular when he was a Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arizona but what was happening in Arizona in 2006 you had the Hat you had the immigrant rights marches right and it was across the country so you have in 2001 the first DREAM Act the federal DREAM Act that that that is put forward by the students the dreamers in our community by 2006 it's a full-blown movement right and we had the one of the very first dreamer protestations here in October 2005 one of the first nationally and then thereafter our cities became you know these sites of protest for our communities protesting the Sensenbrenner bill you'll remember that back in 2006 and so then what happens in 2011 2010 May 11 2010 is that the Arizona Legislature they passed House bill 2281 and that was a bill that was codified in the statute as a Rs 15 11 and 15 12 and that bill basically accused these young people as trying to overthrow the American government and that and that it was against the law to to teach people about ethnic solidarity instead of who they are as individuals and and it was a it was a way to justify the ultimate dismantling of the Mexican American Studies program but again at that point in time you had in power you had Tom Horne so in in December while Tom Horne is in power he's the Arizona State Superintendent he issues a finding that that the Tucson Unified School District is in violation of 1512 and basically its Administrative Code that mirrors the the law House bill in 2281 shortly thereafter so that's the last thing he does as December 30th 2010 and then on January 2011 he becomes the Attorney General for the state of Arizona so then what happens is that Huppenthal john huppenthal then becomes the Arizona Superintendent replacing Tom Horne so just like we're talking about weeks right and so then what happens is that instead of just accepting Tom Horne's statements that that TUSD was in violation he calls for a report to be done so I guess it's he's new he's kind of demonstrates a new administration that indeed there's a violation so he had he hires the cambium company they're an outfit out of Dallas and so the cambium company comes in and they do an audit and it's a very very thorough audit of the curriculum they interviewed the teachers and they visited classrooms and they found that there was no violation of any of any kind that M&E was good pedagogy quite the opposite they found in the and the audit that that you know very good things were happening in these classrooms so then what happens and this this is the timeline that helps explain why really why we're here is that then what happens is that is that he rejects the findings that that the state of Arizona taxpayers paid for out of the Arizona Department I'm gonna sort out of the cambium audit and he then calls upon the Arizona Department of Education that now Huppenthal is heading to conduct its own separate investigations so then what they did and I was an expert witness on the case and so I read the whole file it was like peering into that heart of darkness this is before Donald Trump becomes president now we're all peering into it right I mean in Arizona they were used to Trump a trump-like administration because it was already severe and so so then what they did and here's where I just oh God give me the heebie-jeebies or you know I don't know it was just so terrifying was that they went into all of these text books that were being used in the classrooms I wonder what their instructions were but what they did was they went to those passages that if taken out of context would would be extreme so any of our books would have those kinds of passages that if just taken out of context and then you add them up right into into like this horrific curriculum that these children are being taught to hate white people and to hate and to hate the US government and to want to overthrow it seem like real science right so and what's important to us here in Texas is that in in 2013 two years later Senator Dan Patrick in the 83rd session of the legislature he filed Senate bill 11 28 so that sounds like 2281 11:28 Senate bill in 11:28 and and so what he's trying to do is to eliminate college-level ethnic studies mexican-american studies and you can go back to the media somewhat a doctor somewhat I was and others were involved in in challenging that legislation fortunately successfully and then of course I was as was mentioned earlier the judge Judge Toshima he ruled and on August 22nd 2017 that there was discrimination by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the in the state of Arizona there was no Department of Education against the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and the plaintiffs it was my are say was a student and it was a number of teachers also that that filed suit so all of this is just a you know like the the deeper context that that is so fresh in terms of the lingering and continuing the consistent the consistent attempt by our our leaders are the people that are in power to deny us our own history and and and one thing that went way that I've thought about this particularly the ground-level work that we're doing we have people from academia quietly and from the public schools here that are here locally thank you for coming in particularly their Susy Garcia from a scientist elementary and you know what we have here is just sort of this low-grade I mean is historic but just this low-grade attack and it's a continuing attack on our communities to keep out our voices and without our voices we don't have any power right and and and what we have here on this panel is the is the embodiment of that we have we have to mu headers for that us as that are amazingly powerful whose voices have have been so transformative for our youth and that's why they were there books were taught in in in the in the state of Arizona and so what we're always trying to do is to counter that not only to counter narratives you know that we write that tells a different story but through real politics we can't we can't sit idly by I hope that you feel the urgency that many of us feel in the community and that and that you can also be a just be present just be a body if you can I know you work but I see some students here individuals that have some time but April 11th is going to be historic I know I'm on camera but I think it looks pretty good I think it looks pretty good and what we're calling for at the state level is mexican-american studies right so there's different models of mexican-american studies and ethnic studies and this is what's important and we envision ourselves as quick as creating a policy pathway into other other areas and it's not all that it's not solely that we're confronting bigotry although it's there but there's also professional jealousies and loyalties that attend to the fields of study that you've been groomed for that you've been credential for and so I think Chicano feminist epistemologies just kind of sounds like off her for a means from a mainstream perspective but but for us it's the air that we breathe right for us it's it's what liberate sus and it's not just the curriculum this is real important because I think we'll be talking a lot about books and curriculum but it's the pedagogy and it's as a pedagogy that really underscores all of what we what we write and publish that that is about spirituality it's about social justice it's about being oriented in our communities and a deep and meaningful way and it's about cultivating the next generation of critically conscious teachers so I'll make a switcher and good ass yes I'm gonna move on here on the program and and so now I'm supposed to introduce on that Castillo [Applause] so everyone has their favorite and I guess deal now alright but but this is a one of mine and many of ours so far from God one of the banned books and and she promises to illuminate why it was banned but her books include the novels peel my love like an onion the story collection Loverboy's and the poetry collections ask the impossible my father was a Toltec and watercolor women and the opaque man Castillo's critical work massacre of the dreamers and the plates I have something to tell you miyamoto have also gained her recognition as an advocate for human rights we've been been even yes Anna Castillo thank you thank you thank you for your comments your remarks for your hard work and for your testimony that helped the lifting of this dismantling of mexican-american studies which was a very deliberate move at a border town to to disempower the population that's there and it's you know money was behind it politics is behind it they did not dismantle African American Studies or Asian American so it was very deliberate with Mexican American Studies I was in my home which is in the desert of New Mexico very mining doing what writers do which was contemplating the rising of the Sun and the setting of the Sun and I got a phone call from a young man in Chicago who had been with some of my workshops and he said he had just seen a documentary that was featured downtown that was done by PBS called precious knowledge if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it and he said and when you know in the in the it's the whole film of the story of the dismantling of mexican-american studies and he says you go in the classroom of these successful students Chicano students and he said they were reading so far from God and the teacher Curtis Acosta is is talking about it and there was one of the books that was taken and carried out I want to do it just a quick parenthesis as far as I know the extent of my knowledge about this the only book that was looked at possibly read probably not all the way through by Hooper Thal and these individuals was the pedagogy of the oppressed by pronto fighting which is basically those of us who are in teaching and have been around for a while as elders we've been there some decades now or have been aware of Friday who was the Brazilian of his of his teaching which his teaching method which was to educate everybody and if you educate everybody of course you empower them so they read a little bit about that and they figured well you know this was some plan for a revolution didn't read done that list was also it's a tempest by Shakespeare reservation blues by Sherman Alexie I think that he's American enough so it wasn't a seeing so far from God and my book lover boys I didn't really take it personally in that sense had I chosen one of my books to be censored would not have been either of those two and I have been working on that for some time anyway so I just want to thank the the library the collection here all your work everyone has been involved in in making this a success and my longtime poet friend Carmen Tafolla also for being here this evening with us and I'm very proud of of Carmen as the poet here as having just finished her tenure as a the poet laureate of Texas and which is a huge huge that I'd like to recognize that being that Carmen and I are about the same age and we go so far back so far back that we were pretty much well into our careers as writers and poets careers meaning that that's what we were doing amongst those people were were individuals like Juan Felipe Dada who just finished his tenure as Laurie out of this country and we were well into our 30s some in 40s and older and we were writing and writing and writing and talking and doing all that we continue to do this day without any expectations of the country that is our country for lack of another way of putting it ever recognizing who we are as marginalized of marginalized population for reason it goes back for a long time it's not gotten any better I think we should keep our eyes peeled our ears peeled and not go to sleep it wouldn't be advisable I want to I was asked to read for a few minutes and instead of so far from God I want to read something from the collection of short stories it's my own a collection of short stories I'm a self-taught writer it's how I began to teach myself prose writing from transitioning from poet to a prose writer the book the book Loverboy's is titled after the story lover voice and I'm just gonna read a few pages from it and I was thinking about this this afternoon I wrote this story over a quarter of a century ago over 25 years ago so there are people in this room they weren't here with us yet when I wrote this story but I want you later on there's gonna be a recession let me know how it holds up it's called lover boys two boys are making out in the booth across from me I ain't got nothing else to do so I watched them I drink the not so aged House brandy and I watch two boys make out it's more like they're in the throes of passion as they say and they're not boys really I think I've seen them around before somewhere on campus maybe not making out though one gets up to get the me to another drink I guess and he and I check each other out and briefly as he passes me up on his way to the bar he's a white boy wearing a t-shirt with the graphic of Malcolm X on it this is the way my life is these days or maybe it's a sign of the 90s a white boy with the picture of Malcolm X on his t-shirt and me sitting here in a gay bar trying to forget a man well okay he must not have been just any man and I'm sure not just any woman before him there were only women Buddhist mujeres SI no mujeres Buddhist a cast of thousands women's music festivals feminist symposiums women of color retreats and camp outs women's healing rituals under a full moon ceremonies of Union and not so ceremonious reunions women only panels and caucuses at conferences on Fein women ad infinitum and then one day a boy not much older than either of these two loving it up in front of me nor the half-dozen other clients he'll hear on a dead Monday night for that matter comes into my store asking for our copy of the rebel I point in the direction of Albert whom I once was so fond of we were on a first-name basis and he the boy in my store kind of casually goes over to check out what we got in the shelf we're always stocked up on the existentialist so I didn't bother Chow for assistance my partner who used to be my partner in all senses of the word and whom I bought out a year ago and I opened the store up about ten years ago we thought about making it a woman's bookstore a lesbian bookstore gay and lesbian bookstore at third world bookstore or even an exclusively latina bookstore heaven knows anytime any town could use at least one of each of these kind of book shops stocked up on alternative press publications that in form you about what's going on with the majority of the population when you're sure you when you sure don't hear it from the mass media you know but no spirituality one out since all roads eventually lead to one place we reasoned so along with commissar and Kierkegaard we I carry almost anything you can imagine that comes out of the East and native imaginations and ancient practices i sat back and picked up the book I was reading I let the boy browse I saw him leafing through some of the other things and finally he came over with a copy of the stranger didn't you see the ruble up on the shelf I asked not really looking at him just taking the book and ringing it up yeah but I don't think I'm ready for it he answered I read this in high school I think I'll read it again I really like this translation anyway he said referring to the Edition he had chosen I rang it up but he didn't pick up his package right away just kept looking at me I look back and smiled a little cockily I'm a mirror that way you look at me a certain way and I respond in kind just like with this white guy here who just passed me by again with two Coronas he looks he doesn't smile he just looks like I don't belong here I don't belong here I help start this joint about twelve years ago when you couldn't find a gay bar within ten miles of this town me and Rosie and her compadre who's over there send tending bar the big guy with the bunch of via charm and beer belly he looks like someone's father right not the kind of bartender you would expect to find in a gay bar well just for the record he is somebody's father his oldest son enlisted in the Air Force over compensating for his dad's do be as machismo or patriotism if you ask me he just got shipped off to the Middle East last week his daughter Belinda Rosie's godchild got married last summer that's the way it goes yeah his wife knows he owns this bar and she knows all the rest too but she's pretty religious and would never have thought to divorce him besides Rosie told me that his wife really doesn't find the men and his her husband's life a threat to her marriage he's got it pretty good huh anyway I say to this young man with Indian smooth skin like glazed clay and the offhanded manner of a chili Leggett if you ever saw one after he's been staring at me for a good minute or so without saying anything is there anything I can help you with his dark face got darker when he blushed and he laughs no he said shaking his head actually I did want to get that one of his too but I can't afford it until payday he admitted referring to the rebel liking his white uneven teeth although I'm not very good with quotes except to Massacre them usually I said I was placed halfway between poverty and the Sun with that he got this expression like I had just done a wondrous thing quoting Albert spontaneously I was ready to part to see if I could continue to elicit that gaze of a devotee from those obsidian eyes so I dare to continue quoting poverty kept me from thinking all was well under the Sun and in history the Sun taught me that history was not everything he laughed out loud he laughed like he had just discovered he was in the presence of Camus himself and he slapped his thigh as if to say what a kick he stared at me some more and then he left still laughing after that it was all out of our hands he came back a few more times that week and finally one evening just before I closed he wasn't buying anything just browsing and talking with me when I had a minute between customers by this time we were old chums talking about all kinds of things literature mostly he likes poetry he writes poetry well at least he says he does he never showed me anything but Who am I to question or to judge so we went to get a taco down the street at my favorite taco joint I'm really a creature of habit no doubt about it there's only one place where I go for tacos and one place where I go and get loaded and there's my store in between is home and sleep anyway then we came here as you might have guessed to have a drink I used to come just on weekends but since about the time when we stopped hanging out I am here just about every night of the week it seems [Applause] beautiful beautiful thank you thank you for sharing so now it gives me pleasure to introduce yukata meant that for you I had them right up here she's a native of the West Texas side bar Joseph San Antonio and the author of more than 20 books Godwin has been recognized by the National Association for Chicano channel studies for work that gives voice to the peoples and cultures of this land and has received numerous recognitions including the art of peace award for work with which contributes to peace justice and human understanding and as we know she was also the poet laureate for San Antonio and after that she became I believe in 2016 right the poet laureate for the state of Texas 2015 for the state of Texas so without any further ado join me and buck I mean [Applause] you know when I first heard that good and era had been banned in the state of Arizona I said why and I sat down immediately to read it from cover to cover like what did I put in here in my memory quit and then I would come up in the early eighties and which some librarian friends of mine kept telling me that they had to put in the reserve section of the library this was in Arizona they'd also told me that in San Antonio and I said to them why what do you have in the reserves and they said because the high school kids come in and they check it out and they take it home like this and they never bring it back really happy when I said couldn't you just buy a few extra copies I keep something in the reserves and let the rest of it be available for people to take home and hug you know and I felt that part of why that book which was published in the early eighties but had been written sometime in the late 70s part of why students were responding to it was it was written from their perspective it was written from their heart it was written with the way they spoke in their language in my native language tex-mex you know and and they were hearing themselves they were feeling themselves in it so I sat down and I read through from cover to cover I even read that little boring page there's all the numbers and the ISBN and all that stuff what why this book all it does is empower students all it does is in power people of color does is is take people who speak languages other than English and put them on the same level with people that speak English all it does is make us question if sometimes the student doesn't know more than the teacher that's not so bad my husband was finally I realized the people who banned books aren't people who read books they're not people who love books they're the people who see books as good solid bricks with which to build walls things you can sit on or hide behind that have a physical purpose not an intellectual not an emotional not a spiritual purpose and and it while it had honored me to have the book be banned right as it was coming out in his 30th anniversary edition in the same year within like a month of becoming City poet laureate I had a book banned so I was being laurel in one city and banned in a different state I kept thinking that the people who bend my book never read my book they banned it because it was part of Mexican American Studies and all that stood for and the students were enjoying it too much the students were becoming empowered the students were getting sassy they were thinking maybe they were smart maybe they deserved to graduate from high school maybe they deserved to go to college maybe they deserve to have a voice in this society that's what they were upset about not about what I wrote because they didn't read what I wrote they saw words maybe they saw sin maybe they can subparagraphs but they never allowed those words to penetrate their skin to get into their hearts to really have an intimate impact on them and what you do when you read a book you let it go inside you make yourself vulnerable you open yourself up and you allow yourself to fall in love with a book so know the people who Bend these books on Augusta dated Sherman Alexie's and and very happily and proudly to be in that company mine too they didn't know how to read so I'm gonna read you a few little points from God and data and in honor of those students who saw themselves in my work and heard themselves in my work I'm gonna let you also see yourself or see the students that were involved I didn't bring all my props with me but I'm gonna put a little bit of something together here because the first one the one that I decided was probably the one that really did it for him was called quality literature and it was written you understand in the late 70s when the Journal of the Modern Language Association and other such experts on literature were all saying that Chicano literature wasn't important enough to be reviewed in their books so it's in the voice of a student I would love to tell you that it's totally fictional but it's not only the names were changed to protect the guilty and the professor oh yes he's here too there's the professor simple props things easy the professor his name was changed to I'll tell you what his original name was but he is still roaming around somewhere in retirement however every time I read it at the college where he was teaching all the students go oh it's doctor can they say the name so we start with Bethel and I'll just cue you with the glasses when the glasses it's dr. Dumont dr. Dumont said a quiet voice from the back row of the world Lit class as the bell rang and the distinguished professor collected his papers – – from the room yes said Dumont in his crisp pseudo British accent as a hazy face with a name he didn't remember approached him you said the other day that I would go write a critique thing on any other just to get it approved by you first and when I was in the library the other day and they got this real good book by Lena Martinez called a tiara great and I'm gonna do mine on that Elena Martinez and I tell you I fictionalized all the names you can figure out who these writers on Elena Martinez I don't recall the name is she poet is from Chile no sir she said Chacon is about a compass you know family and it's Chicano literature no I'm afraid I just can't approve that read it if you wish but for your report we need quality literature and Chicano literature simply isn't quality but this stuff's good I mean it's the first stuff I ever seen there really talks about real things there's writers like toribio Salinas and have you read quantity very soon no but why don't you look into Samuel Beckett's or not on Tonga do the French existential CH is really superb it is telling the alienation of the individual and society the profundity and subtlety in it's absurd context magnify the impact of its Universal reality it speaks to the Communists of situations and yet elevates to the philosophically sublime the lowest of human positions I would think it would be an excellent topic for you but have you read in us the Leone sir no but I really think Beckett's theater would provide an almost unlimited opportunity for development and commentary there's some books on it in the library that's one by Fontaine and the peculiar juxtaposition of characters and I'm sure you would find quite a good bit on it and well how about Frank Sanchez sir have you read him no but there simply hasn't been any quality Chicano literature if you must have something in Spanish tried Daario orb or haze or Cervantes darrell has been highly acclaimed in Madrid didn't even parents said the professor examining with slight curiosity the face of the student who he now faintly recalled as having made very poor marks on the last exam of course he thought so la da canto has been published in Spain could I write on her sir Dumont continued to shake his head gathered his papers under his arm leaned into the face of the student and stated emphatically but it hasn't even been critiqued in the PMLA the Journal of the Modern Language Association and until it's predict in the BM la I can't say it's quality literature and the professor walked off into a semicolon as the face of the student became an epic poem I think it was the student points I think it was the student points that didn't I think it was the poems in here that talked about real classroom settings that is if I'm audacious enough and foolish enough to think even read the book which I don't think they get but had they read it this was probably the one that would have done it or and when I dream dreams that talks about the evil things that students do and I just have time for I think about four lines out of out of this one that talks about how students dreams were stolen away how they were locked up and uniform eyes dand pushed out of school and sent off to Vietnam and I'll read that little section to you about two of the students and Lalo with a mind that could write in a sleep growing epics from Isaac a dream now writes only the same story over and over until the day that it's all over as he's Frist and he's frisked and his wrists in our school cafeteria and they keep finding nothing and even when he's out his mind is always in prison like loop as mine that peels potatoes and chops rebel and wishes his boredom was less than the ants in the hill and never learned to read because the words were in English and she was in Spanish so thank you for your attention [Applause] for daring to believe that all books have something good for us and that people intent on banning books are not the people who love to read [Applause] Wow so it's time for Q&A anybody have any questions that you want to direct to either our of our authors or to myself it's atrocious right what Arizona did it sound so medieval right but but really they just kind of expressed what our state departments do casually anyway by Fiat of policy right so our books are effectively banned by their non-inclusion and my struggles against allowing for them to be included right our knowledge or histories but you know they I think they did in some sense the favor of drawing us a real clear line to distinguish barbaric from what inclusive and civilized and right so any comment seeing any questions yes please that's what the publishers hope my publisher said yes it's right in time I'll put it on the front cover band in Arizona y'all notice any any any ticket sales or so the thing is is that it was the there were eighty titles that were on the curriculum of the Mexican American Studies program and these were books that were part of the of that as I mentioned earlier as far as I understand it the only book that was read a little bit was the pedagogy of the oppressed they did not and you're absolutely correct to say this they did not sit down and read 80 books or one book except for them pedagogy the person I think I saw one of those guys talking in that movie probably talking about pedagogy other press so it wasn't a ban they they are banned books but there weren't they weren't banned in the City of Tucson they weren't banned in Arizona they were part of this curriculum I understood that they wanted initially to go after mexican-american studies and the university level but they thought that they wouldn't be able to successfully do that so they started with the high school so that was that I think the idea of censorship and you know all the rest of it that goes with it has promoted more the idea that these books are part of banned books and a lot of it's sort of a badge of honor a lot of people feel pretty you know cool about that but but I don't think that it was like an official banned in a national school district we'll give it a little time with DeVos in office a lot of there may be a lot of books being removed from our students curriculum but that's how I saw it so it didn't affect as far as I know the peoples of view of either one of my books I think that one of the things that happened was that this Mexican American Studies program which I was familiar with a lot of the educators that were involved in it in Arizona it was amazing curricula from K through 12 to my knowledge the only one in the nation that was so thorough and so successful and books that were involved with this program were having an impact the impact was that kids were graduating from high school and going to college and what kind of the evil curriculum would do that to a nice comfortable society where mexican-americans were the cheap labor and the Sunnis said it didn't Ben it said it was banning ethnic studies but they didn't mess with african-american studies they didn't quit talking about the Holocaust they just pretended that Mexicans and Native Americans who are the largest ethnic minority group in Arizona didn't exist they targeted those groups because the status quo was being challenged and so everything related to that the the schools came in to the classrooms while the kids were there and took their books off the shelves put them in boxes packed them up and took them off to the book graveyard and the kids were crying yeah and and I've gotta mention little traffic on tests how many of you know about libro traffic contest the the book smugglers when this happened 20 dears in Houston sent a Facebook thing or an email or something that said you know this is hard well how can this have happened how can they take away the books that mean so much to our young people and and I said what am I gonna have to smuggle my books back into Arizona in a brown paper bag and two weeks later he had a video with the narcotraffic on teh glasses dark glasses and the style and he's standing in front of a truck there came boxes of books in there and he says we're them where the libro traffic contest and were smuggling books back into arizona it was smuggling and so my publisher was all excited that we you know we've gotten banned and he could put it on the front cover he ended up I think losing money on it because the legal authority contest we're gonna make this pilgrimage from Houston San Antonio – Austin – or was it Austin San Antonio El Paso all the way to Tucson Arizona and they were gonna give away the books so my publisher ended up like giving them two hundred copies of good and office so that they could destroy them so the kids can't get him in school they're gonna get him at home so that's what they did it's it's not a good replacement for having it in a curriculum but it was a valiant statement anyway yeah so the Arizona battle goes back to the court case the desegregation Court case that had been in the works for over 25 years and and it was the community it was really interesting that the community for the longest time throughout that time period was basically saying we want our books desegregated right we want the incorporation of our of our literature or history into the state curriculum and and so it gets resolved in the early 2000s and as part of the I mean not legally as part of the court order but as part of the process by which the mexican-american studies back then it was a studies was found it was formed and so so throughout you know that that whole decade they became very strong and they had their summer Institute's and and so that really inspired a San Francisco Unified and and they got going on their own process and now they have the premier ethnic studies program in the country but it wasn't only there it was it was here as well and and now it's national and international movement we've got legislation for ethnic studies in Colorado right now that is under consideration which made some progress in the house they're in 2016 Assembly Bill 2016 in the state of California made ethnic studies a requirement for the state of California consistent with the A through G curriculum to get in because it's College preparedness right to get into the University of California system and we have New Mexico Colorado also um so everyone is on fire now in Toronto you must teach native First Nations First Nations curriculum to I ate out of them out of Toronto schools Oregon it's a it's a requirement to to graduate so it's a really interesting narrative that that even though it was so harsh and horrible for Arizona it really ignited or I would say reignited because there's roots to this struggle that reignited a national movement yeah thank you yeah the libro traffic and this was one way that was they brought a lot of good coverage to the to the struggle there any other questions or comments observations someone has a question doctor Scherzer doctor Scherzer he's my old professor or my long time ago professor I love him all right of course of course yeah I think you [Applause] would you would you like to make us some party comments I think we have food awaiting us and a nice reception afterwards but we have been erased many times and our heroes have been erased and sometimes societies oppressive societies are successful at erasing a name or an individual act or sometimes even an entire language or culture or people but usually the human spirit if it survives it all carries on carries on those stories even if they have to be oral in fact sometimes they do have to be oral because we don't trust the print material because we're not sure we were just talking on and I were talking about 1984 and and how in 1984 Winston the protagonists his job is to take newspapers and history textbooks that have references to things that happened and to change them and pretend they didn't happen and we're living in a society right now where that is that is happening that is being done to us people are trying to erase us and it's our job to make sure we don't get erased so especially those cultures where we do not have the financial wealth to have a bunch the political power to appear in a bunch of books so the are our history is oral it is our job to both get it into print make sure it survives in print make sure that libraries preserve those things but also to remember that that people have a good cultural memory if we if we respect it if we treat it if we honor it by teaching it to our children the academia quietly does a beautiful job on Hill is very involved with that of preserving history so you know it it gives me hope that things do come back around but it's so hard to recover what has been erased so thoroughly and I say that from a point of pain and personal experience because I met the great Emmett Anna Yuka back in the late 70s and and interviewed her and carried on a friendship with her for many years and Emmett and Yuka was in the newspapers in San Antonio in the state of Texas every day she was a household word and half the people whispered her name in AH and half of Custer name because of the work she was doing organizing the poor and they tried to wipe her out of history and they almost succeeded and her niece and I have been at work trying to recoup and reget those stories and write her story but it has taken us years because our main concern is not to hurry and get the book out with our names on it our big concern is to get those stories before those stories die off so we've interviewed so many people and then then five years later they're dead or three years later it's like don't let them interview you cuz you know but we're trying to recoup to recover that story and it would have been so easy to have that story documented when it should have been documented so we have a responsibility to preserve our own history it's not just something we trust the libraries or the historians to do we have to tell the stories we have to make sure everyone knows I mean we need to write it down [Applause] um I don't know how are you seeing the political moment right now with you know as an artist as an author as a person that's creative how do you how do you interpret this current moment from that lens I see it I I manifest a lot of what I think I've chosen to do that creatively starting with visual arts and then I work better was faster for me as an activist with writing but I I see this as a continuum so this so where we are at this moment it's been a it's been a an agenda that's been in place for some time now and we have we reached this point and that's what I that's what I see and and having lived again through so much people said uh about a year ago I said well then but of course you were around during Reagan weren't you well let's keep it real I was around during Nixon so and this ain't Nixon so so this is a continuum of that period of time so having said all that and having thought about that and having written about that for over 40 years almost 50 years now and reaching this point anyway as a creative person my answer is that I felt I've about a year and a half ago I found so very deep depression and I felt that for me personally there was no reason to write any more and I went and advertently I went back to the visual arts in a very personal expression and my visual arts and so I've produced hundreds and hundreds of patterning drawings and different manifestations of that very little painting and I'm pushing through it I may I may I may work on a book again I think there are other things that are quite urgent that can't wait for a book I don't think that that we that I feel personally that I have the luxury to ruminate to reflect on what where we are at this moment to work in a book so to to wait for that there's many many more things that I can say but the question is as the creative person how am i processing that so the creative part of me keeps steady through visual work which I do almost daily so when I'm not when I write I write a lot and twelve hours a day or I can work on one two three four books at a time so all of that has gone into this visual work which is very highly personal changes non-stop and I do work a little bit on poetry I seem to be making a breakthrough writing about some of the things that that I can articulate and small passages about what I think about what is going on but in the big picture it's a part it's always part of a piece of it it's only part of a piece of it so I I commend those are working and producing creatively and producing their works and are able to find that place I encourage it I offer public writing workshops I just offered one last evening address estancia books and I did two back-to-back and Pasadena there's so many people other people not myself that are urged that I'm doing a face your fears workshop to process that to be able to get past some of those fears that we have and they're very real and how do what what do we do I do believe in testimony in memoir I think that especially Mexican people in this country and I separate that from other Latin Americans because we have a you have nine generations in the San Antonio area we have a history of this country being our car our lands not for a hundred years or 200 years but for thousands of years and so what all of that in mind it is very important to to to document and to tell our individual stories so so long have we had a culture where which was not so much that it wasn't literary or that we didn't appreciate books but the hardships that we have had in this country as a people as mestizos as Mexicans is such that unlike African Americans who have the their testimony of slavery and know that they have to remember that and that unifies them and non like Jewish people that have the same faith and in the same God and have a memory of what they have gone through and knows know that that unifies them we don't have that we don't have race and we don't have religion that will bring us all together so individually in our communities in our states and in Texas and MX in Chicago and wherever else then we've made settlements we keep our little communities very small we keep our families small we keep our secrets to ourselves and we say don't talk about it don't talk about it outside of the family we're not going to talk about that and we continue to do that we're going to talk about why we came here how we came here what happened to your well what happened to your father we're not going to talk about that were made to feel ashamed and so what I'm able to do although I'm not able to to to work on a book for the first time in my life I think I was writing books incised to write as a child is is to hopefully impart some of my my skills that I've developed over the years to people who have that who have that desire to tell their stories I think it's very very important I don't think that any store story is insignificant I don't think that there's any story that's more important than another story there's not one boarder story there's not one cheek on a story there's all of us have our stories and we have to impart them to continue to like this tiny little pixels to make that pictures you know to continue to be here we're not we're not going anywhere we didn't we didn't come from anywhere to begin with so we're not going anywhere so we may as well establish that and set the record straight so it's creatively those are the things that I'm able to do assess assess here and a half three years well short of leaving the country and giving up my citizenship which is also the other so well gosh it's just been so amazing for me I hope it's been powerful for you and I'm not sure what your key takeaway is but when a mine is all of our stories are important right and they need to be heard they're equally important and that's just so so liberating and transformative thank you so much I have three quick announcements first a big thanks to University of Texas libraries Lila's Benson and the Center for mexican-american studies for putting this on hekia tu casa chapala for catering this event that we are very excited that smells great we're ready to eat of course to our presenters tonight who were just wonderful and to all the individuals who made this happen second announcement a quick plug on we invite all of you to attend our seventh annual Lila's Benson reunion taking place Saturday April 14th if you like presentations live music and Peruvian fusion food as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the Benson this is the event for you if that tickles your fancy please find amber shawl right there waving for more information finally we have a book giveaway the three books that were on the list the banned book list and we have three sets of them which I believe are at the back of the really the front of the room but the back for me so those three names are fingers crossed those three names are loose Alvarez Simms congratulations [Applause] it's a garcia alright yeah and finally gabrielle solis I hope you liked these books as much as I did have a nice night [Applause]

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