Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To be

Not being driven by, directed by, a particular focus for this blog I sometimes mentally wander about waiting for a bit of inspiration to get me to start writing. An image, a person, a story can be the item that helps me start to type.

I was doing my Sunday a.m. read and feed and came across several fb posts that were responding to the banning and confiscating of books by the Tuscon Unified School District. There are long and detailed discussions taking place led by folks of all factions. Some more scholarly, some more emotional, some anxious to see who can most effectively point their finger at the next person.

Me, I can't help but take the banning of books on a rather personal level. You see, when they talk about banning lessons that include topics like Cesar Chavez or Dolores Huerta, or ban Zinn's "history of America", or Shakespeare's The Tempest", they are talking about ideas and words that have been a part of making me who I am. In some ways because they are so meaningful to me, I view them as almost an extension of who I am. They are nipping at the corners of my identity.
I've written a book on the history of Latinos in Pasadena. I did so because after living here for a while I learned that there was a rich history of this particular community that had not been shared broadly. After years and years of interview and conversations over many cups of coffee with many elders who had lived all their lives in Pasadena their stories and lives were bound in a book. Were this same book used as a textbook in TUSD it would be banned. All the stories, all the people, all the live of those who are in the book would be, in a sense, disappeared.

Our son has some Welsh heritage, so as a family we've kept an eye out for things Welsh as much as things Polish, Mexican, and Scottish. So Sunday morning my eye was drawn to an article on actor Matthew Rhys. I was surprised to learn that he was from Wales, he "did" a great So Cal accent on the TV show "Brothers and Sisters". I was also struck by his comment regarding National Eisteddfodd arts festival.

"Mr. Rhys, who has a quick wit and an engaging affability, said he began performing at an early age. 'It was just part of a normal Welsh childhood, he said, recalling weekly Bibile recitations in church and competing twice yearly at the National Eisteddfod arts festival. 'Its focus (is) on encouraging youth, because the Welsh language is a threatened lnaguage, to parcitpate'."

I read his quote and couldn't help but think about banned books and threatened histories.



  1. More reasons never to set foot in Arizona. It's so disappointing, too, because I want John to see the Grand Canyon. But I can't figure out how to get there without spending money in that state! And I don't want to fund their anti-humanist agenda.

  2. Hopefully a change will come to their thinking. I bet you there is a way to get to the Grand Canyon while spending very little money.

  3. I think banning books will always backfire -- the forbidden fruit aspect only makes them more thrilling. The people I know who live in Arizona feel their state has been hijacked by a mob mentality, but things will change. They always do.

  4. I agree. There is an effort afoot to "smuggle" some of the banned books into the state. The books will be used in classes that will be set up to take place outside of school hours. They intend to The caravan is intended to:
    "Raise awareness of the suspension of the Mexican-American Studies Program and the removal of banned books.
    Promotion of banned authors and their contributions to American Literature, Non-Fiction and Poetry.
    Celebrate diversity: Children of the American Dream must unite to preserve the civil rights of all Americans".
    You can learn more by going to -

  5. Reading Conchita in Tucson.