By Tony Diaz
Every 40 or 50 years, Democracy has to reboot.
This time the duty has fallen on the broad backs and broader imaginations of Mexican Americans.
But we were born for this. Everything we once used to survive will now help us thrive in a multicultural, multimedia era.
That’s why the Republican Party is scared.
So what do they do? They run to retro-racism.
There is one Republican’s campaign ad that says: “Stop the Invasion. Secure the border.”
Why would they hate on Canadians like that?
That brings the US back to the 1940s, a time when migrant workers in the Bracero program were doused with kerosene to “kill the diseases” rumor said they brought.
Oh, by the way, the same Republican campaign accuses immigrants of bringing diseases like TB into the country. Oh, by the way, turns out that same Republican candidate used to hire undocumented labor when he owned a sports bar back in the ‘80s. As Alanis Morissette would say, “Isn’t it ironic?”
There is a legacy of responses to this.
So when Arizona banned Mexican-American history, we organized the Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle the banned books back to Tucson. We opened underground libraries along the way.
Only art can save us.
We’ve all been down this road before together. Retro-civil rights = cool. Retro-racism = not cool.
Last time we did this there was Flower Power, Black Power, Chicano Power.
Oh, but wait, you ain’t never read about that.
And The Republican Party wants to keep it that way.
That’s why they don’t want to allow the Texas State Board of Education to vote on April 9 to implement Mexican-American studies for Texas high schools. Why won’t the Republican chair let the 15 members vote on this choice? It wouldn’t be mandatory. Fifty-one percent of the 5 million Texas students are Hispanic. We just want school districts to have the choice to have access to an official Mexican-American studies curriculum. When Tucson ISD implemented Mexican-American studies K-12, their graduation rates shot up to 93%.
Oh, maybe that’s what the GOP is scared of.
The Texas State Board of Education Representative Barbara Cargill, from the Woodlands, is blocking the vote.
What will that vote tell us?
- If she blocks the vote, the Republican Party does not want to embrace a multicultural, multimedia education system.
- If the GOP blocks the vote, Texas Republicans are like Arizona Republicans who founded the modern day anti-immigration and anti-ethnic studies movements.
- If the GOP blocks the vote, Texas will take a giant step toward becoming far-right-run Arizona where Republicans, Democrats and Liberals do not talk at all, and nothing gets done–unless it’s something nuts like banning Mexican-American studies.
This is a generational battle. This is Montrose vs The Woodlands.
Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say, a nonprofit I founded 16 years ago this April, held its first reading in the party hall of Chapultepec Restaurant in Montrose.
It was like Flower Power, Floy y Canto, all over again. Latinos vibing with African Americans, with Anglos around the spoken word, and this time around it was our word.
That group formed the network that would lead up to the Librotraficante movement.
We are stocking up the books that terrified Arizona Republicans and we want to free them in Texas. “House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros, “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya, “The Magic of Blood” by Dagoberto Gilb. (Okay, that one has the world “blood” in it, maybe that’s why they get scared.)
We just have to get passed the log jam of the Woodlands to reach the Texas capitol steps to deliver the mind-altering prose that will deliver Texas to its glorious future, the model for a multicultural, multimedia era.
Join us to let the Republican Party know that it must not block a vote on Mexican-American studies April 9. We must unite for Texas to take a huge step in becoming the new face of the American dream.
Are you ready to ride with us again? The Retro-racism spilling from the Woodlands needs to be answered with another Civil Rights movement. And our generation is just the right one to deliver it. We are on the right side of history. But we do need you. Are you ready to become a Librotraficante?
Our time is now.