Case of Mexican-American studies in Arizona takes center stage in court

  Arguments are being heard Monday in the 9th District Court of Appeals in San Francisco regarding “Maya Arce vs Huppenthal,” which is tied to an Arizona law prohibiting the Mexican-American Studies. Plaintiff Maya Arce is challenging the law, which the Arizona Supreme Court previously upheld. “The right to study my history, culture, literature, and art is a basic fundamental human right,” Arce told VOXXI. “My grandparents were punished for speaking Spanish and being ‘too Mexican’ in schools. SEE ALSO: Tucson Mexican-American studies books removed; not banned? Forced to be ashamed of being Mexican? “In essence, they were made to feel ashamed of who they were. For this reason, I choose to continue the struggle of my ancestors and those who will come after me so we can honor, study, and celebrate our rich resistance to oppression and tremendous contributions to humanity,” Arce went on to say. Over the weekend, supporters – Mexican-American studies teachers, students, ethnic studies scholars and organizers from across California, Texas and Arizona – convened in San Francisco to show their support against the law that in January 2012 led to Tucson Unified School District administrators going into classrooms and confiscating books used in the Mexican American Studies Program. “This was a huge ethnic studies summit that brought together advocates from California, Arizona and Texas,” Librotraficante Movement leader Tony Diaz told VOXXI. “What’s really powerful is we haven’t had this level of dialogue since the famous conventions that Corky Gonzales did in the ‘70s or the huge assemblies that Cesar Chavez would convene in the ‘70s. “It’s really powerful that there is this cross pollination of all of these thinkers, advocates, scholars. Unfortunately, it was propelled by this racist, un-American law, but we are pretty confident that [today] will launch the dawning of the Chicano renaissance and together we’re the generation that’s going to deliver ethnic studies for everybody.” Arizona Mexican-American studies case in court The hope is the Court of Appeals will deem Arizona House Bill 2281 unconstitutional, and open the door for Mexican-American Studies efforts in Arizona to become similar to programs required for graduation in Los Angeles and San Francisco school districts. Diaz said both events this past Saturday were empowering. “The real powerful moment was at the end when they called up youth from the audience,” Diaz said. “There were four Latinas that were so inspired. One young woman said that she used to hate the color of her skin but after taking ethnic studies she feels so powerful. She found her voice. “Really, there’s all of this interesting academic and single issues at play. That’s what the people in Arizona who banned ethnic studies fear most: Young Latina youth finding their voice.” As far as the 9th District Court of Appeals, Diaz said sentiment going in was the court would either rule the case should go back to trial and be tried regarding equal protection or be invalidated altogether. “Richard Martinez, the legal eagle coordinating the legal team, he said he doesn’t see the United States Supreme Court looking at this law because it’s specific to Arizona,” Diaz said. “On the flipside, it’s still America and there’s still freedom of speech.” When asked what happens if the 9th District Court of Appeals upholds Arizona House Bill 2281, Diaz remains optimistic this won’t happen. SEE ALSO: Librotraficante-Keeping Mexican-American studies alive “It is unimaginable that the court would uphold it,” Diaz said. “If they uphold it, then we have to think outside of the box. I would be heartbroken and angry, really upset and they would really make me call into question all of the institutions of America – the balance of power, freedom of speech. “That would be heartbreaking and it would anger me to no extent because it’s a completely unfair and un-American law.”The post Case of Mexican-American studies in Arizona takes center stage in court appeared first on Voxxi.

This presentation during the Ethnic Studies Summit to support the plaintiffs in “Maya v. Huppenthal,” a case fighting for Mexican-American studies to be taught in Arizona, was attended by more than 200 people. A court in San Francisco is now hearing the case, fighting to keep Mexican-American studies. (Photo Courtesy: Bryan Parras/Librotraficante- HighTechAztec)

Arguments are being heard Monday in the 9th District Court of Appeals in San Francisco regarding “Maya Arce vs Huppenthal,” which is tied to an Arizona law prohibiting the Mexican-American Studies. Plaintiff Maya Arce is challenging the law, which the Arizona Supreme Court previously upheld.

“The right to study my history, culture, literature, and art is a basic fundamental human right,” Arce told VOXXI. “My grandparents were punished for speaking Spanish and being ‘too Mexican’ in schools.

SEE ALSO: Tucson Mexican-American studies books removed; not banned?

Forced to be ashamed of being Mexican?

“In essence, they were made to feel ashamed of who they were. For this reason, I choose to continue the struggle of my ancestors and those who will come after me so we can honor, study, and celebrate our rich resistance to oppression and tremendous contributions to humanity,” Arce went on to say.

Over the weekend, supporters – Mexican-American studies teachers, students, ethnic studies scholars and organizers from across California, Texas and Arizona – convened in San Francisco to show their support against the law that in January 2012 led to Tucson Unified School District administrators going into classrooms and confiscating books used in the Mexican American Studies Program.

“This was a huge ethnic studies summit that brought together advocates from California, Arizona and Texas,” Librotraficante Movement leader Tony Diaz told VOXXI. “What’s really powerful is we haven’t had this level of dialogue since the famous conventions that Corky Gonzales did in the ‘70s or the huge assemblies that Cesar Chavez would convene in the ‘70s.

“It’s really powerful that there is this cross pollination of all of these thinkers, advocates, scholars. Unfortunately, it was propelled by this racist, un-American law, but we are pretty confident that [today] will launch the dawning of the Chicano renaissance and together we’re the generation that’s going to deliver ethnic studies for everybody.”

Arizona Mexican-American studies case in court

The hope is the Court of Appeals will deem Arizona House Bill 2281 unconstitutional, and open the door for Mexican-American Studies efforts in Arizona to become similar to programs required for graduation in Los Angeles and San Francisco school districts.

Diaz said both events this past Saturday were empowering.

“The real powerful moment was at the end when they called up youth from the audience,” Diaz said. “There were four Latinas that were so inspired. One young woman said that she used to hate the color of her skin but after taking ethnic studies she feels so powerful. She found her voice.

“Really, there’s all of this interesting academic and single issues at play. That’s what the people in Arizona who banned ethnic studies fear most: Young Latina youth finding their voice.”

As far as the 9th District Court of Appeals, Diaz said sentiment going in was the court would either rule the case should go back to trial and be tried regarding equal protection or be invalidated altogether.

“Richard Martinez, the legal eagle coordinating the legal team, he said he doesn’t see the United States Supreme Court looking at this law because it’s specific to Arizona,” Diaz said. “On the flipside, it’s still America and there’s still freedom of speech.”

These gwo girls are plaintiffs in the Mexican-American studies case in Arizona.
Korina Lopez (left), the original plaintiff in the Mexican-American studies case is now in college. The main plaintiff, Maya Arce, (right) stands with her at the Ethnic Studies Summit in San Francisco, CA. (Photo Courtesy: Bryan Parras/Librotraficante- HighTechAztec)

When asked what happens if the 9th District Court of Appeals upholds Arizona House Bill 2281, Diaz remains optimistic this won’t happen.

SEE ALSO: Librotraficante-Keeping Mexican-American studies alive

“It is unimaginable that the court would uphold it,” Diaz said. “If they uphold it, then we have to think outside of the box. I would be heartbroken and angry, really upset and they would really make me call into question all of the institutions of America – the balance of power, freedom of speech.

“That would be heartbreaking and it would anger me to no extent because it’s a completely unfair and un-American law.”

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The post Case of Mexican-American studies in Arizona takes center stage in court appeared first on Voxxi.