For the next couple of months the world will be focusing on the racist SB 1070 law which is slated to take effect on Thursday July 29th. What most people don’t know is that it will not stop there, HB 2281 an anti-ethnic study will now be the next bill that will come into action, a good old fashion censorship law that will codify the Western “triumph” with an emphasis on Greco-Roman culture in schools in the state of Arizona. This new law would be applied to all schools in the state of Arizona, it will determine what books are acceptable in the state, it is slated to go into effect on January 1st 2011. This Inquisitorial mechanism has already decided that Occupied America by Rodolfo Acuña and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire are un-American and preach the violent overthrow of the American government. What is developing in Arizona is becoming more and more scary if you ask me, these laws are genocidal! One law attacks the physical presence of red-brown people; while the second attacks their minds and spirits.
What exactly is Ethnic/Raza studies? Common Dreams explains it as:
In general, the philosophical foundation for Raza Studies are several Indigenous concepts, including: In Lak Ech, Panche Be and Hunab Ku. Over the past generation, the first two concepts have become fairly well known in the Mexican/Chicana/Chicano communities of the United States. The third concept, Hunab Ku, is relatively less well known, though it actually forms the foundation for In Lak Ech – ‘Tu eres mi otro yo – You are my other self’ and Panche Be – ‘to seek the root of the truth’ or ‘to find the truth in the roots’. As explained by Maya scholar, Domingo Martínez Paredez, Hunab Ku is the name the Maya gave in their language to the equivalence of the Supreme Being or the Grand Architect of the Universe (Hunab Ku, 1970). Such concept is an understanding of how the universe functions.
These three concepts are rooted in a philosophy based on maiz. Maiz, incidentally, is the only crop in the history of humanity that was created by humans. Also, the Indigenous peoples of this continent are the only peoples in the history of humanity to have created their/our own food – maiz – a food so special that it is what virtually unites not simply this continent, but this era. These three maiz-based concepts, in effect, constitute the essence of who we are or who we can be; human beings connected to each other, to all of life and creation. Part of creation; not outside of it. This is the definition of what it means to be human. While these concepts are Indigenous to this continent, they also exist generally in all cultures.
Despite the destruction of the many thousands of the ancient books of the Maya (along with those of the Aztecs-Mexica) by Spanish priests during the colonial era, these Maya-Nahua concepts were not destroyed, nor are they consigned to the past. Today, they continue to be preserved and conveyed via ceremony, oral traditions, poetry and song (In Xochitl – In Cuicatl) and danza. And they continue to be developed by life’s experiences.
In Raza Studies, these ideas are designed to reach those that are unfamiliar with these concepts, including and in particular, Mexicans/Chicanos and Central Americans and other peoples from the Americas who live in the United States and who are maiz-based peoples or gente de maiz, albeit, sometimes far-removed from the cornfield or milpa. Despite their disconnection from the fields and despite the disconnection from the planting cycles and accompanying ceremonies – and in many cases the ancestral stories – their/our daily diet consciously and unconsciously keeps us connected to this continent and to the other original peoples and cultures of this continent.
Thus, the effort to understand these concepts is to create a creation/resistance culture, instead of people viewing themselves as foreigners or a minority; it is also to show that de-Indigenized Mexicans/Chicana/Chicano and Central and South American peoples are not trying to learn from a dead culture, elders say that these cultures have not died and it is just that people have been disconnected from them. That is one definition of colonization and/or de-Indigenization. To understand and live by these concepts can be seen as a form of de-colonization, elders throughout the Americas have been reaching out to these communities and telling them to return to their roots. Asserting the right to this knowledge that is Indeginous to this continent is an effort to proclaim the humanity and Indigeneity of peoples that are so often treated as unwelcomed and alien to society, HB 2281 considers this knowledge to be un-American. Knowledge like this could help the red-brown people of Arizona, who are constantly under siege, to bring about peace, justice, and dignity; with the potential to create better human beings out of all of us…