All students have the right to develop critical thinking skills through a challenging curriculum. All students, regardless of their background, have the right to learn about the history of their own people, as well as the history of the land and peoples where they are currently living. In Tucson, this should include the history and literature of Mexican American people as well as the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui peoples. The targeting of one ethnic group is an attack on all ethnic groups, and the elimination of a curriculum and books that encourage students to consider the perspectives of those who are often silenced should be a concern to all humanity.
The teaching of Mexican American studies cannot be separated from the teaching of the history of the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this land long before the arrival of Europeans. Indigenous communities have been artificially bisected by the US-Mexico border. People from these communities may speak Spanish, English, as well as their Indigenous languages. Their histories, their stories, and discussion of their contemporary issues have a place in our classrooms and libraries. The curriculum that has been banned in Tucson includes works written by highly acclaimed authors and Tucson residents Ofelia Zepeda (Tohono O’odham) and Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), in addition to a number of other Native American authors. The censorship of Native voices due to the prohibition of the Mexican American Studies curriculum is part of what prompts the American Indian Library Association to take a stand on this issue.