Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Testimony before the Texas State Board of Education by Angela Valenzuela Ph.D.

My Testimony Before the Texas State Board of Education*


Angela Valenzuela, Ph.D.

November 15, 2016

I would like to call out issues of confidence, trustworthiness, validity.

A textbook can be technically “correct” and still be biased. 

A textbook can be technically correct and still miseducate.

As Ms. Dunbar suggests, why is it political and ideological when it involves criticism by Mexican American scholars?  And why, in Dunbar’s world, is it not political or ideological when it involves the authors of this explicitly biased textbook?

I would like to address political and ideological concerns.

For starters, for a book-publishing-agenda of this importance to come forward precisely because of the demands for inclusion here in this space in 2014 by the Mexican American community, is inescapably political. 

Politics means power and its assertion.  The number one factor in majority-minority relations is power.  "Minority" is not a statement about numbers, but about power—social, cultural, political, and economic power.

That is, the desire—really for a course, but what ended up being a textbook—is precisely the result of an assertion of political power by the Mexican American community. 

Moreover, we do not only advocate for ourselves as a community.  We have a long history of advocating for all of our communities, women, minorities, the undocumented, and the LGBTQ community.

It should be noted that our political power as a Latino/Mexicano community is not equal to that of a Cynthia Dunbar who owns a publishing house. 

And that is systemic.  Believe me, if any of us owned a publishing house, we would be having a very different discussion today.

And maybe this is ultimately the hidden desire — for us never get to that point to where we ourselves are owners of a publishing house.

It’s mystifying to think that an unknown publishing company would assume this great and important task of responding to a community’s entire history of curricular exclusion by placing it in the assumptive hands of a self-appointed, unknown publisher written by equally unknown “curriculum developers” as if this were merely a technical exercise—and as if no expert authority beyond this were necessary.

Such little regard is itself an instantiation of privilege and minority-majority relations.

And then to give it the title, “Mexican American Heritage,” absent any concern over our communities’ lifelong, legendary struggle for respectful inclusion in the state curriculum, preempts this very opportunity for authorship with a title that should honor us, but instead disrespects us and relegates us as to a feared and suspect class.

History, like democracy, is much more than a market where our role as a public is limited to that of us as consumers.  History for us—for all of us, as minorities—is about authorship.  

And the misuse and abuse of privilege, robs us of our voice and authorship in an area about which we are deeply invested.

If this is not about ideological or political power, then nothing that was said today is ideological or political.  And we know this to not be true.

Thank you very much.

*Thanks to Alonzo Mendoza for recording this.


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