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The Daily Wildcat

62° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ethnic studies opposition reaches new lows

Opponents of Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program have stopped at nothing in their efforts to eliminate the program. Members of UNIDOS (United Non-discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies) can testify to this. Robert Rodriguez, an assistant professor of Mexican-American studies at the UA, has had his reputation besmirched and his life threatened as a result of his involvement in the organization. With investigations into this matter concluded at the end of last month, a look back at the issue is in order.

On April 26, UNIDOS coordinated a sit-in protest at a local school board meeting in which nine activist high school students and alumni chained themselves to chairs. In a video published on the conservative blog MikeShaw.tv, Rodriguez is inexplicably accused of child abuse for his participation in the event.

Baseless allegations of child abuse are but a drop in the bucket, unfortunately. Rodriguez has also been at the receiving end of a number of threatening phone messages. According to the Tucson Weekly, Rodriguez recorded one threat from a man who said, “”Hey, I’m part Native American; I’m part white. … You’re going to find a magnum up your fucking ass, Mexican.””

The students who took part in UNIDOS’ school board protest have also been targeted. Footage of the event is featured in a YouTube video that likens protesters to the violent zombie creatures in the film “”I Am Legend.”” The music that accompanies the video warns that if the “”infected”” become hostile, the only way to subdue them is to “”shoot them in the head.””

Unfortunately, the Tucson Police Department has determined that there is “”no evidence”” indicating that the video poses a threat.

Ever since TUSD’s ethnic studies classes were declared “”illegal,”” the tactics used by those who oppose the program have gone from bad to indefensible. Their efforts to eliminate the program through botched curriculum audits and legislation have failed dismally, so they are now resorting to brute intimidation and libel as a means of achieving their goal.

But rest assured, UNIDOS members and other pro-ethnic studies activists will not be silenced. They will continue to fight for a program that has not only led to higher graduation rates, but has given Mexican-American students a sense of identity that they otherwise would not have developed.

It’s truly confusing that people would so vehemently reject cultural enrichment through means of education. Let’s just hope that those intent on tearing down this program will not succeed in doing so.

 

Nyles Kendall is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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