Librotraficantes: Caravan Moving Through San Antonio on Way to Protest Arizona’s Dismantling of Mexican-American Studies
Read the article here.
On Monday, March 12, the busses and cars of the Librotraficante Caravan will roll into San Antonio from Houston, making the first stop on their road trip. Up to 200 people are expected to eventually join the journey, which will pass through El Paso and Albuquerque before arriving at their destination: Tucson, where the Mexican American Studies’ classes in the public schools have been suspended, its curriculum prohibited by state law. Arizona is playing culture war again, and the librotraficantes, Spanish for “book smugglers,” are riding to the rescue.
But TUSD Communications Director Cara Rene insists there are no banned books at the school district.
While several titles were boxed up as evidence in the tussle, those books — including Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado, Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, and Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow — have since been released back to the district and opened to librarians. “We let our librarians know that if they wanted to have any of those additional copies in their libraries, they could make a request,” Rene told the Current. “Thus far, about 11 schools have done that. So there are even more books at the libraries now for students to use.”
As for seizing books in front of students, TUSD acknowledges, “We regret that in one instance materials were collected during class time.”
[Tony] Diaz objects to the defense.
“TUSD is pushing back, saying no books are banned. But the law prohibits the courses,” Diaz said.
Here, watch Tony Diaz yourself:
It’s no coincidence that one of the books ‘banned’ in Tucson is called Critical Race Theory. It has essays in it by Derrick A. Bell, among many others.
Critical Race Theory is an offshoot of Critical Theory, which I learned a little about in college, and Critical Legal Studies, about which I know nothing. Critical Theory is a philosophy with practical aims. Its proponents believe that people can figure out their own true self-interests and free themselves from social oppression by acting on them. That link above gives a very good description of Critical Theory, but it’s very long and involved. There’s a more accessible version here, if you go to the ‘Look Inside’ feature and read the author’s introduction.
I don’t want to unnecessarily contribute to the freak-out over Critical Race Theory, but the first sentence of the Wikipedia version of Critical Theory is this:
Critical theory is a Neo-Marxist examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities.
Karl Marx was a philosopher, after all. Freaking out over ideas has always been a bad idea, I think. Ideas should be discussed, not banned.
I believe the Arizona Republicans passed a law that allowed Mexican American Studies to be banned for the same reason that right wingers don’t want Marx or Critical Race Theory to be studied seriously: people might learn where their true interests lie, and act on that. This could upset the current rich-white-male-dominated order. Some people think that would be a bad thing.