September 26, 2008
We were able to spend some time recently with Arturo Rodriguez, one of the young stars of “Mi Otro Yo”. Arturo is a freshman at The University of Arizona and he is enjoying the challenge of being a college student.
With Leilani, another one of the stars of “Mi Otro Yo”, he recently attended a meeting with incoming members of the Tucson Unified School Districts Governing Board. Arturo said he was 30 or 40 years younger than anyone else in the audience.
Leilani and Arturo quizzed the incoming board members on their stance towards keeping Ethnic Studies in the classroom.
Last year at Tucson High School, Arturo liked to dress vaquero/cowboy style to show pride in his Sinaloan roots. A professor at the University of Arizona has encouraged him to keep up this tradition.
Arturo’s cowboy hat features autographs from a member of the Banda Tres Rios, from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico:
And also the Grupo Laberinto, from Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico:
June 8, 2008
Crystal in the Barrio Viejo
It has been great fun to work with Tucson High School students. I love everything that shows in their faces. The students are educated, thinking, earnest, and innocent.
We did our final shoot this morning with Crystal, who is 16 and also a neighbor. She will be going to Oakland soon to do youth training with Derechos Humanos.
Crystal told us she does not like to spend time away from her family because she gets really homesick. Her Derechos Humanos youth group are planning a vigil at the home of Tom Horne, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, who is one of the most vocal critics of Raza/Mexican American Studies.
We shot our short, which is now called, “Mi Otro Yo/My Other Me” in the historic part of town or the Barrio Viejo. It is real close by Tucson High School and some of our subjects would ride their bikes to meet us for shoots. One challenge has been the really hot, dry, and howling wind, which makes it difficult to record audio and also hold a reflector. We have shot mostly outdoors and sometimes it sounds like a freakin’ war zone where we are shooting. The Tucson summer has arrived in force.
Ari slashed and cut a good six minutes down to three minutes today. We will show our three minutes to a few of the neighbors this afternoon, to see if they can understand what is so entirely understandable to us right now.
June 8, 2008
Leilani, one of the young stars of our short said, “Ethnic Studies programs are always under attack. That’s history.”
The disdain and critique of Raza/Mexican American Studies ebbs and flows but it got really unattractive when activist Dolores Huerta, who co-founded The United Farm Workers, with Cesar Chavez, told Tucson High School students that “Republicans hate Latinos.” This was just one tiny thing that Dolores said, during a long speech. Local and national talk show pundits had a field day with that zinger and a scorching wind, full of fine dust and microscopic cactus needles, blazed into the offices of some of our elected politicians in Phoenix.
Ari and I did not realize how polarizing this issue is in our community. I think it has to do with deep-seated fears about immigration, our closeness to the border, and racism.
Our newspapers and radio shows are filled with discussion and the students are upset about rumors that the Fox News Network’s Bill O’Reilly has plans to launch an attack against Raza/Mexican American Studies at Tucson High School. This sort of negative attention helps mobilize their Coalition for Positive Representation in Education.
Leilani at the Tiradito Shrine in the Barrio Viejo
June 4, 2008
I am working together with my long time filmmaking partner, Ari Luis Palos. We have been shooting our election piece, which has its focus on students from Tucson High School and their efforts to keep ethnic studies, which includes Raza/Chicano, Pan-Asian, African American, and Native American Studies in the classroom. The students want to be able to continue learning about Cesar Chavez and read literature by Sandra Cisneros, which is entirely appropriate considering the Tucson Unified School District has 59,000 students and 32,500 are Latino.
However, there are legislators seeking to ban these programs and they are getting a lot of support from people in the community. It is a little depressing that programs helping students and get them to college are under such attack.
One of the students that we have been working with wrote an article in support of his recent Raza/Mexican American Studies classes.
You can read his words here:
He is a really smart and brave 17 year old. Just for writing an article in support of a multi-cultural education he has been called brain washed, racist, a dimwit, a malcontent, part of the KKK, and also a Nazi.
Naturally this sort of dialogue makes us pretty upset and also gives us the inspiration to provide a space for these students to express their opinions.
Eren Isabel McGinnis