La Tolteca Spring 2012 Issue

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Activist Response in Tucscon to the Dismantling of Mex-Amer Studies

REFORMA’s Resolution regarding TUSD

February 28, 2012


REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking, an affiliate of the American Library Association, with nineteen local and regional chapters and at-large members from all parts of the United States, views the dismantling of the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Mexican American Studies (MAS) program as a violation of the core principles of intellectual freedom and equity of access.

REFORMA advocates for and affirms students’ right to have access to accurate and meaningful information that will enhance their critical inquiry skills and understanding of an inclusionary society that honors and respects all of its component members. We support student access to diverse literature that lends to inquiry, conversation, and critical thinking – all strengths that we value in the continued building of our democracy.

WHEREAS the 2010 Census found that Arizona’s Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 29.6% of the state’s total population,1 and Tucson’s Hispanic/Latino population accounted for 41.6% of the city’s total population2, with both the state and the city having larger Hispanic/Latino populations than the national average; and

WHEREAS Dr. Arnulfo Trejo, educated in TUSD schools and the University of Arizona and later serving on the faculty of the University of Arizona’s Graduate Library School, in 1971 founded REFORMA and provided its driving force; and

WHEREAS reading list titles associated with the MAS program consist of works written by nationally and internationally renowned, award-winning authors, including but not limited to Sherman Alexie, James Baldwin, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Francisco Jimenez, Matt de la Peña, Carmen Tafolla, and Luis Alberto Urrea, whose stories reflect this country’s rich and diverse heritage; and

WHEREAS these books have been removed from classrooms related to the MAS program, and the TUSD school libraries do not contain all of the removed titles, making this literature inaccessible to all TUSD students;3 and

WHEREAS REFORMA views teachers as brothers and sisters in the same mission of fostering the love of reading and education by promoting books, literacy, and critical thinking; and

WHEREAS REFORMA is outraged by the confiscation and removal of these materials from classrooms and asserts that their lack of availability in all school libraries creates de facto censorship;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking:

1. Condemns the dismantling of the MAS program at TUSD and the removal of textbooks from the classrooms;

2. Affirms that exclusion of and/or restriction of access to the multiple viewpoints, experiences, and histories expressed in books fosters antagonism, isolation, and withdrawal from a pluralistic and inclusive society,

3. Encourages all REFORMA members and member libraries to take local action by creating book displays of the confiscated materials, creating educational programs about the value and meaning of intellectual freedom and censorship, and creating resources in support of the students of the MAS program to further their pursuit of learning; and

4. Commits to developing resource tools and action kits in support of the MAS students’ right to pursue their intellectual, informational, and recreational needs; and be it further

RESOLVED that REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking):

1. Unanimously supports the excellent service delivery and specific actions taken by our REFORMA-Tucson Chapter, such as the planning of a 2012 Latino Literacy Roundtable, and their compilation and dissemination of the Outlawed and Threatened Book List entitled “THE CHILLING EFFECTS: A Mexican-American Studies Challenged and Outlawed Reading List;”

2. Unanimously affirms the January 2012 American Library Association, Office of Intellectual Freedom Resolution OPPOSING RESTRICTION OF ACCESS TO MATERIALS AND OPEN INQUIRY IN ARIZONA ETHNIC AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAM, 4 the January 2012 American Indian Library Association STATEMENT ON ETHNIC STUDIES PROGRAMS IN ARIZONA,5 and the January 2012 Progressive Librarians Guild STATEMENT ON CENSORSHIP AND THE TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT; 6 and

3. Unanimously applauds the TUSD students who protested the dismantling of the MAS program and affirmed the changes the MAS program made in their lives, and the teachers and parents who spoke out against the program’s dissolution: MAS Students Speak Out About Their Classes and Books Being Banned in Tucson and TUSD-MAS Historical Trauma and Sadness

1 United States Census Bureau, 2010 Census Interactive Population Search: Arizona. Accessed from on February 11, 2012.
2 United States Census Bureau, State and County Quick Facts: Arizona, January 17, 2012. Accessed from on February 11, 2012.
3 Alexis Huicochea, “TUSD Rejects Reports of Book Ban,” Arizona Daily Star, January 18, 2012. Accessed from on February 12, 2012.
4 OIF Blog, “Resolution Opposing Restriction of Access to Materials and Open Inquiry in Ethnic and Cultural Studies Programs in Arizona,” January 24, 2012. Accessed from on February 12, 2012.
5 American Indian Library Association, Statement on Ethnic Studies Programs in Arizona, February 2, 2012. Accessed from on February 12, 2012.
6 Progressive Librarians Guild, PLG Statement on Censorship and the Tucson Unified School District, January 21, 2012. Accessed from on February 12, 2012.

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New Writers Beware & A Call to Arms to All Book Lovers

From Bryce Milligan:

Ebook sales have been a highly addictive drug to many smaller publishers. For one thing, there are no “returns.” Traditionally, profit margins for publishers are so low because books that remain on shelves too long can be returned for credit—too often in unsalable condition. No one returns an ebook. Further, ebook sales allowed smaller presses to get a taste of the kind of money that online impulse buying can produce. Already ebook sales were underwriting the publication of paper-and-ink books at Wings Press.
It has been increasingly obvious to independent publishers for the last two years that Amazon intends to put all independents out of business—publishers, distributors, and bookstores. Under the guise of providing greater access, Amazon seemingly wants to kill off the distributors, then kill off the independent publishers and bookstores, and become the only link between the reader and the author.
Having created numerous (seven or more) imprints of its own,among rank-and-file authors, Amazon is offering what amounts to glorified self-publication. The effect is to lure authors away from the editors who would have helped them perfect their work, away from the publishers and designers and publicists and booksellers who have dedicated their lives to building the careers of authors, while themselves making a living from the books they love. Even the lowly book reviewer has been replaced by semi-anonymous reader-reviewers. All these are the people who sustain literary culture.
For Amazon to rip ebook sales away from independent publishers now seems a classic bait-and-switch tactic guaranteed to kill small presses by the hundreds. Ah, but predatory business practices are so very American these days. There was a time not so long ago when “competition” was a healthy thing, not a synonym for corporate “murder.” Amazon could have been a bright and shining star, lighting the way to increased literacy and improved access to alternative literatures.

    Alas, it looks more likely to be a large and deadly asteroid. We, the literary dinosaurs, are watching closely to see if this is a near miss or the beginning of extinction. Fortunately, this generation of dinosaurs is a little better equipped than the last one to take measures to avoid such a fate.
    One can choose to buy ebooks from or from almost any independent bookstore rather than Amazon. One can buy directly from IPG. A free app will allow one to read those books on a Kindle. The resistance has already begun, and it starts with choice.
    Sign the petition at

    Bryce Milligan is the publisher/editor of Wings Press. He is an award-winning poet and author of books for children and young adults.

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The Progressive – Sherman Alexie Speaks Out

Sherman Alexie

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous. So, in a strange way, I’m pleased that the racist folks of Arizona have officially declared, in banning me alongside Urrea, Baca, and Castillo, that their anti-immigration laws are also anti-Indian. I’m also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world. In the effort to vanish our books, Arizona has actually given them enormous power. Arizona has made our books sacred documents now.

Sherman Alexie is a poet, short story writer, novelist, and filmmaker. His book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s Fist Fight in Heaven,” was on the banned curriculum of the Mexican American Studies Program.

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Books Banned in Tucson

Hey kids: We interrupt our scheduled programming on the upcoming writing workshops I am offering this Easter Week in New Mexico to give an update on the political, moral and psychological decline of our neighboring state.

Here is a full list of books that were effectively banned when Tucson shut down the ethnic studies program. Last week, books were physically removed from libraries and classrooms, and reportedly taken out of students’ hands. Once you take a look at the growing, extensive list (link below) the question to ask is which Latin@ writer whose books have been regularly adopted in courses ISN’T on the list?

It’s a mini-McCarthyish blacklist equating any Latin@ immigrant related expression to the fear generated amongst the populace during the Cold War. The presumed threat then was the world takeover of Communism.

This is not the only move to discredit Latin@ literature along the border, in particular Texas. The question during an election year to ask, especially for Arizonan voters is: Yay or nay on our First Amendment and Freedom of Speech rights being systematically removed?

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Attention American PEN members

Great news: there’s still time to submit a letter of nomination for PEN’s awards. Our awards program—the most comprehensive in the country—will present 20 awards in 2012, and one of the many benefits of PEN Membership is the ability to submit letters of recommendation on behalf of your colleagues. Help honor a writer whose contributions to literature in the field of poetry, drama, children’s literature, or sports writing deserve recognition and praise. The deadline for nominations is February 1, 2012, so send your letters today.

We invite you to write a letter of nomination for:

The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry ($5,000): This award recognizes a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature. Past Voelker Award winners include Linda Gregg, Robert Pinsky, Frederick Seidel, Heather McHugh, C. K. Williams, Franz Wright, and Jane Kenyon.

The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a Playwright in Mid Career ($7,500): This award acknowledges a dramatist whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of his or her work. Past winners include Marcus Gardley, Lynn Nottage, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Sarah Ruhl, among others.

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): This fellowship is for an author of children’s or young adult fiction who has published at least two books, to assist in completing a book-length work-in-progress. Past recipients of the Fellowship include Lucy Frank, Graham McNamee, Lori Aurelia Williams, Franny Billingsley, Amanda Jenkins, and Barbara Shoup.

The PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): This award honors a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field. In 2011, the inaugural year, the award went to Roger Angell.

PEN is committed to recognizing and rewarding the accomplishments of outstanding voices in literature, and our awards program, in tandem with our work in defense of free expression, signals our devotion to the celebration of literature. Help us by nominating your colleagues for the PEN Literary Awards today.

For more information, visit or write to

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Hoy Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

Que los bendiga a todos.

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La Tolteca Winter 2012 Issue

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Ana Castillo in Santa Fe, Nov 9, 10 and 11. Join me!

NNMC flier

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