Friday, August 05, 2016

Please sign the Texas Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition Petition

It is my wish that all of my friends sign this petition against the racist and otherwise highly problematic treatment of Mexican Americans in the book titled, "Mexican American Heritage," written by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle.  It is currently under consideration for statewide adoption by the Texas State Board of Education.
Mexican American Studies—of which Ethnic Studies is a part—is a large and growing movement that is taking place right now in Texas and California, two bell weather states with respect to both education and trends in the Mexican American community, in particular.
It is an inspired movement with many adherents of which the publisher and authors of this racist textbook were obviously unaware. 
But then, their cluelessness on the matter maps on perfectly to their woefully inaccurate and offensive interpretation of the Mexican American experience.  This non-trivial, major blind spot explains a lot.

The irony here is—who are they to talk about our heritage without including our decades upon decades worth of research and writing in the area of Mexican American Studies in their book?  How is such a gargantuan oversight even possible?
This area of scholarship is so vast that from where I stand, it takes more effort to ignore than not to. In contrast, these authors are unknown by the Mexican American Studies scholarly community.

It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out at the September and November meetings of the board.  And not just for the publisher and authors, but for the SBOE members, as well.

Not unlike children of other races/ethnicities in the teaching of their respective heritage and notwithstanding this proposed text, our children and grand children still need to know their Mexican American heritage and history.  They need to know who they are, where they came from, and how their personhoods were formed as a consequence.  From a position of strength and self-awareness, they need to know what their responsibilities are to society and to furthering the public good.  

A well taught and well designed Mexican American or Ethnic Studies course will guide them along in this direction.  This proposed book will not only not take them there; it misrepresents and derogates their experience. 
I should know.  I have been teaching Ethnic Studies for over 26 years. I see many of my students—minority and majority alike—blossom and unfold before my very eyes in ways that are life changing, as well as personally and professionally meaningful.

Your signing this petition will help block the book.  
Our students deserve to see an accurate and fair representation of their communities, elders, and ancestors in their classrooms and schools through the textbooks that they read.
If our children are to assume power and a sense of ownership over the profound demographic, political, economic, social, and cultural challenges of the 21st century, every last one of them will benefit greatly from learning about this diversity, addressing important research questions on which we have staked our careers and reputations and to which we have dedicated our lives.

Angela Valenzuela

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