No History Is illegal- The Fight for Our own Herstories in Arizona


Muteado - Posted on 17 May 2012

Author: 
Muteado Silencio/PNN

Tucson's Mexican American Studies Director Sean Arce Speaks at Mission High on the Banning of Ethnic Studies in Arizona..

We arrive at Mission High School with POOR Magazine family to witness and take part in an event called "No History is Illegal". Sean Arce, fired from his job as director of the Tucson school district's Mexican American Studies program, was about to speak on the banning of ethnic studies in Arizona.

As we enter Mission High School, which looks like an old church or mission built by Spanish colonizers, I wonder in my mind of the Ohlone people whose land was stolen, and remember a story that a friend of mine once shared of how the Spaniards would always build their Catholic churches on sacred land Natives used for their ceremonies.

I remember in high school in my US history class, my teacher telling the class that Native people were savages and that the Europeans brought civilization to the Americas.

I would raise my hand and say it was a lie that Indigenous people were savages. I would say that Indigenous people were well organized, and we were great civilizations and that the Pyramids were living proof. After this comment she gave me a referral and sent me to see the counselor.

I always failed US History, and World Cultures, but I was blessed to have mentors around me outside of school, who spoke of the histories that are not written in books, from the migrante struggle to street knowledge.

The event "No History is Illegal" was held in the library of Mission High, a perfect place for the conversation that was about to take place. I notice a beautiful piece art done by students, hanging on the wall. The piece art was a symbol and recognition of the diversity of cultures.

The moderator started to introduce the speakers:

Sean Arce, former Director, Mexican American Studies Program, Tucson Unified School District. Sean Arce was fired in April when the school district decided to dismantle the program.  Maestro Sean Arce said one of the major reasons Arizona is coming after ethnic studies is because, if we know who WE really are as people, we will start loving ourselves, instead killing ourselves.

Marcela Itzél Ortega, 11th Grade Student, ARISE High School.  “Ethnic studies have not only empowered me as Xicana, but also as a woman,” said Marcela Itzél Ortega. Marcela also spoke about how ARISE High School did a Teach-In Day about what’s happening in Arizona, watching documentaries like “Precious Knowledge” and creating theatre skits about the banning of books in Arizona.  “You need to know where you come from, to know where you going,” she also said.

Flor Burruel, Student Activist, Pima Community College, Arizona (via Skype).  Flor spoke on the ongoing resistance in Arizona, the actions they have executed, and how they are planning to keep the resistance and struggle going for a fair education for all Arizona students.

Roger Alvarado, Spokesperson of SFSU’s Third World Liberation Front.  Roger shared knowledge on past struggles and resistance done by students and oppressed people, here and in the world.

“You need to know where you came from, to know where you going.”  These words bounce of the walls in that library at Mission High, echoed by people who are resisting by any means, resisting attempts by white supremacy to erase, forget, ignore, sweep under the rug, beat the brown out of us, or lynch or the pride we carry inside our hearts....

But like our ancestors have done over hundreds of years, Resist Resist Resist….

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