Friday, September 2, 2016

Scholars Decry Mexican American Studies Textbook Ahead of Public Hearing

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 12:15 PM

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With the Texas State Board of Education slated to host a public hearing on the state's new Mexican American Studies textbook later this month (as well as a public comment period that ends today), scholars continue to decry the text, titled Mexican American Heritage, as inaccurate and deeply troubling. Among the many problems, they say:

- It labels Mexicans as “lazy” and then continues to perpetuate the stereotype by highlighting an indolent Mexican laborer when explaining the working relationships between workers and American industrialists of the late 1800s.
- It fails to recognize that Mexicans and Mexican Americans have indigenous roots.
- It portrays the Chicana/Chicano movement as one that wanted to destroy US society.
- It fails to make the connections between the Civil War and racism, claiming that state's rights and the influence of the national government were the causes of the Civil War, instead of slavery. It additionally states that the mistreatment of Anglo southerners is what caused the denial of the civil rights of former slaves, instead of racism.

On September 6, MAS professors plan to gather for a press conference in the Rio Grande Valley to share additional reviews of the book. They plan to host a rally ahead of the state board's public hearing on the book on September 13.

Lilliana P. Saldaña, PhD, an assistant professor of Mexican American Studies at UTSA, tells us that the book, if approved, would only reinforce a narrative "that we are foreigners, that we don't belong, that we have a deficient culture in relation to European and Anglo-American cultures, and that those who challenge systems of oppression and want to create a more socially just world (like the activists of the Chicana and Chicano Civil Rights Movement) are out to destroy this country.”

“It’s important that Chicana and Chicano scholars tell our story because when we tell our story, children and youth will learn that the movement was about self-determination, political representation in a system that had systemically disenfranchised Mexicans by design," she says. The book, she insists, would be "a dangerous view to present in a classroom." 

The Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition has set up this website with instructions on how to submit comments to the Texas Education Agency and the SBOE.  

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