Contemplating the Arizona Book Ban

by on February 6, 2012 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Education, From the Soul, History, Media, Popular

 There’s this book ban
in Arizona
which is supposedly
in the USA
where book banning
isn’t supposed to take place
but they went on and did it anyway.
And it happened “quicker than
you can say,
Jack Robinson,”
an idiom from a long ago day.

Here’s a play by play.
First there was
that they say
was to get a hold
on immigration
Harass a Mexican
to make your day.

And before you could yawn
and say: “What’s going on?”
Mexican American Studies
was gone.
And the book banning
came along
like lyrics
free versed
in a rap song.

Lawd, have mercy,
something’s gone
way wrong.
When I took
a look
at the books
on the list
that Arizona doesn’t want to exist,
I wondered,
“Am I stoned?”
It was chilling
to my old bones.
I counted 88.
And according to the
Grand Canyon State,
William Shakespeare’s
“The Tempest”
doth not appeareth too great!
And it blew my mind
to find
James Baldwin’s
“Fire Next Time”
as that book
was as essential
as oxygen
in the development
of my Colored, Negro, Black, African American
social and political mind.
Because of cats like James
I ain’t the least bit blind.
And Paolo Freire,
my main man,
loving mentor to the oppressed,
blessed with the gift to help a people in distress
like birds lifting to the skies,
on to hopes and dreams,
Ain’t that a trip?
Cast aside
by people who’s brains
are made of “Yee! Ha!” and rawhide.
Alongside Howard Zinn,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
our long time friend,
who hipped us
to a People’s History.
Jonathon Kozol
who exposed before us all
the Savage Inequalities,
in our communities,
in our society,
to which our schools give root.
And those fools
Fahrenheit 451’d
Zoot Suit
and other Luis Valdez plays
that help folks
understand their roots,
their pachuconess,
their vatoness,
their eseness,
their chicaness…;
And down, too,
went Culture Clash.
They flatout don’t want
young Chicanos
to think and laugh.
Oh, man, that’s a gas.
It’s like a mass dash
to bash what they see as the underclass.
And what’s their fear of
“Like Water for Chocolate?”
an immaculate love story
of tense human emotions,
intertwined with food and
recipes and Mexican traditions…

The powers-that-be
simply cannot tolerate imagery
wherein brown children
learn the wonders
of their culture,
who they are,
where they’ve been,
how they’ve come
to the various situations
they find themselves in.
But the powers-that-be
are a bit tardy
because the children
are already
Rethinking Columbus
and the sins
perpetrated against them,
like the one they’re
wrapped up in in this very second.
They already know the truth.
They’ve had Chicano Studies.
They live what they’ve learned,
loving life,
feeling good about themselves,
giving to their world,
as that’s what their learning
has concentrated on.
So, powers-that-be,
your hateful ugly grandiose plan
to keep Mexican Americans
from living free
is pretty much over and done.
The Chicanos will win
because when a people
are up on their feet
trekking on a path to full liberty,
a path to a life of dignity,
they can’t help but overcome.
That’s Pursuit of Freedom 101.

Watch out Arizona!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Andy Cohen February 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hey, Ernie: What did you expect in a state governed by ignorant, uneducated, bigoted, ideological rednecks that are so completely filled with hate for anything “different” (read: not white, not Christian)? Arizonans got the government they wanted, and now they have to live with the consequences. Your home state is an embarrassment to the entire nation. We’ll see in November if the citizens there have come to their senses or not. Recalling Russell Pearce was a good first step in the right direction.


avatar Goatskull February 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Off topic I know but there are a few good things that come out of Zonie land (Besides Mr. McCray of course) Here one right here. Punk band Rumspringer out of Tuscon. Here they are playing in North Park back in 2010.


avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Yeah, there are some good things that come out of Zonie land and now after listening and being rocked out I agree that Rumspringer is high on the list.


avatar Goatskull February 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm



avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm



avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

You are correct; getting rid of Russell was a good first step. Go, Arizona!


avatar judi Curry February 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

You’ve done it again, Ernie. When my husband went to Lake Havasu City as the Asst. Supt. of schools I wondered why it was called the hemorrhoid capital of Arizona it didn’t take long to figure out there were many ass holes living there. But the prejudice wasn’t solely for the minorities that looked different. It was also against women. When I left education the first time I became a Foreman (forewoman?) for a general contractor in SD. No way could I get a job on a project in your state. In fact, one person told me ” . . . . he would rather hire a Mexican than a woman.” I talked to someone in Bruce Babbitt’s office and he said at that time, 1980-1982 – the state was becoming more liberal in their thinking. Wonder what his definition of “liberal” is today?


avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm

All it takes to become more liberal in Arizona is to look at a Latino and not wince.


avatar Goatskull February 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

In all fairness I can say this about my own experiences over there. Despite Arizona being the kind of place it is politically, just like anywhere else there are exceptions to the rule. I’ve spent time in Sedona and overall I think that’s a more liberal town than SD. I’ve also spent a few days in Tucson and it seemed like a pretty open minded city and I enjoyed myself there. Back in 79ish or so I went with a friend’s family to Lake Havasu and at the time being that I was only 18 I really didn’t notice or pay much attention to politics. I remember being able to buy beer?. I’ve known many people originally from there and not all of them are right wing kooks.


avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

That’s fair enough. I love Tucson.


avatar Handy February 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Look up REDNECK it’s from the coal miner’s revolt against the big coal companys.


avatar Lauren February 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Awesome! Unbelievable what’s happening. As we’re learning all over the world, freedom will never be stopped, only waylaid now and then.


avatar Ernie McCray February 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm

So true. Good will win over evil in all this.


avatar JMW February 7, 2012 at 5:35 am

Let’s not bash everybody and everything in Arizona. Yes, it is a little white power wise, but there’s gotta be some good not brown folks living there, too. The dirt’s great! Can you still drive thru for liquor? That was cool. I keep thinking I would be nice to live outside this zoo, you know, let them go their way by themselves. Fire Next Time? Damn. The Tempest? You’re kidding, aren’t you? BTW, don’t forget your Glock, dear. I wish I could laugh.


avatar Goatskull February 7, 2012 at 7:42 am

Read my post above.


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