Before we begin our weekly book reviews next month, we want to start off the new year discussing the importance and optimism conveyed by the December ruling in Arizona regarding ethnic studies programs in public schools. On December 26, 2017, federal appeals court judge Wallace Tashima ruled the 2010 law banning ethnic studies programs in Tucson schools unconstitutional; Tashima ruled that the ban violated both the 1st Amendment’s freedom of speech and the 14th Amendment, as he deemed the law racially motivated, obstructing equal protection. The said ban was directed primarily at Mexican Studies programs, and it had led to Tucson’s dissolving of the Mexican American Studies program in 2012 due to the holding of state funds. In this ruling, the judge stated that the said law can no longer be enforced, and that the Tucson Unified School District cannot be punished or threatened for ignoring the law.
For more information, check out this article in the LA Times.
Nonetheless, alongside this triumph, immigrant students continue to face extraordinary challenges. The Trump administration’s recent announcement that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of Salvadorans who have been authorized to live and work in the United States since calamitous earthquakes in 2001 has been revoked. Close to 200,000 Salvadorans who have called the United States home for over fifteen years will have to leave the United States by September of 2019. The Temporary Protected Statuses of Haitians and Nicaraguans were also revoked a few weeks ago by the Trump administration, affecting about 59,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans. At the same time, our government continues to belabor and postpone supportive action for the recipients of DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These policy changes, and lack thereof, risk tearing apart families and seriously affect our students and communities. It is important that we keep them forefront in our thoughts and actions as we begin a new year, and remember that even in the smallest of actions like choosing a book for our students, we are fighting for the rights of peoples and families from all nations who are part of this country.
We start this new year with these successes and obstacles forefront – both experiences encouraging us to push for the rights and uplifting of all peoples. In the midst of the crazy and difficult world in which we live, it is important that we celebrate the victories that support our communities across the Americas, that we fight unjust policies, and that we continue to honor our different histories. Here on the blog we will continue by celebrating lesser told narratives through our daily work, perseverance and appreciation for diverse voices.