Dr. Rodolfo Acuña, Professor Emeritus of History at Cal-State Northridge, sounded off in The Progressive on Arizona’s recent banning of Mexican American studies courses, books, and materials, asking the question: When do you start to count?
When the great Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit-ups he did, he responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. That is when I start counting, because then it really counts. That’s what makes you a champion.”
These words resonate in Tucson, where Latina/o students are fighting for an education by sitting-in in the office of Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone, walking out of classes, demonstrating, and taking to the streets.
Students are dispelling the myth that Mexican Americans do not care about education; they have started counting because it hurts. They know the difference between having subject matter that is relevant and having those books warehoused, between having teachers who believe in what they are teaching and sitting through classes where teachers go through the motions.
I agree with Professor Acuña when he says that the purpose of this is to intimidate other groups who may want to fight back against injustice. And as he says, this is about keeping Mexicans in their place–without a sense of history, without a sense of self. When liberals begin to realize what this is all about, then we can have a conversation about “Latino outreach” in politics. Otherwise, we’re just grasping at whatever is left.