Arizona has been the stage of many racial battles. It seems to be the front lines for bigotry and progressive thinking. Arizona is where Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin got their start in politics by probing an unscrupulous sheriff’s practices.
They were arrested and acquitted. After that, they were awarded a $3 million settlement with Maricopa County.
Now, students in Arizona have reason to celebrate. They have won the right to have Mexican-American studies be listed as part of college curriculum. A federal judge ruled last December that it is unlawful for the state to refuse to offer Mexican-American studies to students.
The battle has been waging for almost seven years. It all started when lawmakers in Arizona passed a bill that allowed them to ban ethnic studies.
The bill was designed to target a school with a popular Mexican-American Studies program. The district threatened to pull funding from the institution and the school was forced to shut the program down. All relative textbooks and teaching material was confiscated and burned in Orwellian fashion.
It was revealed on Twitter by judge A. Wallace Tashima – one of the magistrates responsible for passing the ban – that the ban on Mexican-American Studies was motivated entirely by anti-Mexican American attitudes. Such blatant bigotry and racism is unacceptable in a true democracy. All people must be given an equal chance and everyone, no matter color, creed, or ethnicity is equal.
It’s unbearable to think that we live in a place and time where knowledge of any kind is banned – especially knowledge relating to culture and ethnicity.
People have an inherent need and right to know where they come from. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/potmsearch/detail/submission/6427818/Michael_Lacey and http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/blogs/az-aclu-honors-new-times-founders-jim-larkin-and-mike-lacey-as-civil-libertarians-of-the-year-6500737
Our history defines us as humans. Without a deep knowledge and understanding of yourself you stand stranded and lost amongst a sea of strangers. Mexican-American studies provided many young learners the necessary anchor to navigate life. It’s disheartening to know it took seven years to end the fight but comforting to know the fight was finally won.
The Frontera Fund supports students of all ethnicities and focuses strongly on the rights of immigrants. The underrepresented communities of undocumented families must not be forgotten.
The decision to repeal the ban on Mexican-American Studies comes at the heels of the decision to repeal DACA and DREAM. Perhaps this victory will ignite the fire and fan the flames to create a new DREAM Act. If we stand with the Frontera Fund, we can all be part of the change.
Two Organizations are Leading the Fight Against Joe Arpaio
When you think about a local sheriff, Joe Arpaio isn’t exactly what you imagine. Joe Arpaio, during his time as Sheriff of Maricopa County went above and beyond what was necessary for a sheriff, but he did it in all the wrong ways.
Arpaio was an enforcer of immigration law, a task that is not required or even asked of a sheriff. When Joe Arpaio arrested Ortega Melendres, actions were set in motion that ultimately caused charges being filed against Joe Arpaio. After Arpaio ignored a judge’s orders to no longer enforce immigration law, he was charged with criminal contempt of court.
Arpaio had finally been charged with a crime, but citizens of Maricopa County believed it wasn’t enough. Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who owned and oversaw operations at the Phoenix New Times, had been keeping up with Arpaio’s activities for years, sharing them with readers in their newspaper’s archives. They had a long list of alleged crimes committed by Arpaio, and criminal contempt of court was on the lower end. The Phoenix New Times wrote about Arpaio and instances of police brutality, political misdeeds, and reported acts of torture.
Lacey and Larkin were personally abused by Joe Arpaio. Arpaio used his power to detain the oppositional journalists, shipping them to local jails. Eventually they were released, then they filed lawsuit against the county. In the end, Lacey and Larkin walked away from the situation with 3.75 million dollars.
The former owners of the Phoenix New Times eventually created The Frontera Fund and Front Page Confidential. Both of these organizations are fighting against Joe Arpaio in different ways. The Frontera Fund helps the former victims of Arpaio by donating to charities; Front Page Confidential published content with the purpose of keeping Joe Arpaio out of office and removing corrupt incumbents from their positions.