“American Apartheid” in Arizona?: Banning Books in the Tucson Unified School District

For those of you not in the loop, the Tucson school district has recently banned a large number of books from school reading lists as part of its ban on Mexican-American studies curriculum.  The list of books includes those authored by Mexican-American authors, American Indian/Alaska Native authors, and things like Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  It seems that no text inciting students to think more critically is safe.

It’s easy to turn away and think that this is only happening in Arizona, but the fact that it’s happening at all should cause us to pause and discuss further…in addition to acting when we see this happening in small or big ways in our local schools.

Here is Bill Bigelow’s response to the banning of his 1990’s text Rethinking Columbus.  And here’s some information on other authors responding to the banning of their books here.

Questions for discussion, should you be lovely enough to post comments here:

  • Sherman Alexie is calling this “American Apartheid” in Arizona.  What do you think about this statement?
  • While some of the authors point out that it’s almost an honor to have content so real and compelling that the book is banned, what about the students who will not have access to these texts?  And what about the attitudes that are behind this book banning in the first place?
  • Have you experienced banned books in your own education or in a child’s school?
  • Is there more subtle book banning happening in Portland schools?  Or just the exclusion of certain historical moments from history classes, etc.?



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