"You know, Chuy, you're gonna have a magical life. Because no matter where you go, it will always be better than Tucson." --Hamlet II
---In before Mark Beef! I no longer live in Tucson, but it will always be home to me. This rant will come off somehow crotchety- but I intend it with chiding love, mostly. ---
Please don't be so quick to back pedal, everybody. I'm pretty sure that, although the history may be a mix of a cute joke, an homage to Austin's old motto, and/or a bit of old 4th ave. underpass graffiti, plenty of us really actually mean exactly what it sounds like. It does not mean (necessarily) "fuck everything new", but "Keep Tucson Shitty" is something that Tucsonans latch on to because the best parts of this city, past and present, are the things that aren't polished, clean, or perfect.
I remember when I was a young lady of 16 and working at the Rialto after it had recently reopened (1997). My then bosses Paul and Jeb would attend the Rio Nuevo meetings and fill my head with all sorts of silly stories. Snake Bridge? Close the old Greyhound station? New underpass? Aviation extension? It all seemed impossible, and I guess some of it was (new arena in the shape of a desert tortoise, anyone?). But some of that nonsense turned out to be good, bungling and gross mismanagement of funds aside. I don't think anyone misses the old crumbling tiny Broadway underpass, the Greyhound, PLEASURE WORLD? (Naw, I'm sure plenty of people miss that place.)
But some really good common sense, and cheap things that made Tucson a really notable and special place were de-funded, mothballed, or strangled in the name of cleanliness and progress. Businesses that had gotten by for years closed through the YEARS of ongoing downtown construction, and as those businesses were pushed out sweetheart deals were made for popular developers. The city gave money and tax breaks to those who already had plenty, and starved our local Tucson artists and small business owners out of their shops and homes.
As a dumb kid making bad decisions, kicking around the avenue in the 90's I watched the city make all ages shows illegal, forcing the hand of Steve Eye to close the DPC, watched them bus the homeless out of Tucson in time for the snowbirds arrival (free one way greyhound tickets to anywhere in the continental US), make newspaper hawking illegal in an effort to keep people from panhandling on the roadside, and remove all of the benches off of fourth ave. to keep kids from loitering and spare changing. I watched private security- first the "Purple People" (DABA), then the A-Team- hired for the 4th avenue street fair, and finally the "Yellow Shirts" (FAMA) beat the shit out of under age street kids, the homeless, and gutterpunks fairly regularly. These guys would photograph and stalk anyone with impunity, and apparently had the authority to dole out punishment as they saw fit. (I never saw police intervene in either direction) I recall back then the common complaint amongst downtown and fourth avenue businesses alike was (maybe still is?) that the funding for DABA and FAMA (Downtown Arts and Business Alliance and the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, I think?) came from a compulsory fee that provided no actual voting power as to how those moneys were used. (Taxation without representation, right?)
At the same time Tucson set to killing most public funding for things like the food line that used to be downtown on Toole, next to where Solar Culture now sits. Is it way cooler to have venues and artist's studios on Toole? Definitely. But it's sickening that there's no centralized place for people to get a free meal any longer, and that the city pulled its funding and walked away from the only soup kitchen it operated. All of Tucson's soup kitchen's are now privately operated (almost entirely by churches) and only two are open to the public. ( http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/2000/04/1… )
While some good things disappeared and some good things struggled to continue to exist, the city opted to give free rent to Maynards (yeah, that food IS incredible.), build a new hotel at the TCC (You know those other adjacent hotels are empty most of the year, right?) and re-lay the trolley tracks three times for a streetcar of dubious need. The TCC is falling apart and can no longer attract shows, and has lacked the funding for over a decade to repair its own equipment, but all the funding went elsewhere. A lot of it directly into the hotel in the TCC's parking lot.
Having been an employee of Tucson Parks and Rec's Events and Theater Services Division I watched from the inside as the City of Tucson slowly defunded what was longtime hailed as the city's most successful recreation program. In its heyday E&TS recreated over a million people a year for less money than any other program, while providing free festivals and events in parks all over the city. (I cannot fucking believe how much support the El Rio golf course has right now... any idea how expensive municipal golf is and how few people it serves? But anywho...) The DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center and all of the gear it held, and the crew that supported it were provided by the city at tax payer expense to support the arts and the community. That funding has all but dried up these days.
The events that are left at the Outdoor Performance Center now rent a space that is visibly crumbling, and must hire staff and bring in lighting and sound equipment to fill it. As recently as 1998 the city invested time and dollars to purchase a sound system that fit the space, and to refit the auditorium with diffusion panels designed by Mr Mark Miceli, in an effort to make the bandshell sound better than it ever had, and to keep the neighbors happy. Less than a decade later they would begin a process to destroy what could have so easily been cheaply maintained. They have opted again and again to step over a "shitty" dollar bill for a shiny new dime.
The things about Tucson that absolutely made me who I am today remain the DPC, Toxic Ranch, Skrappy's, Downtown Saturday Night, the Thursday Night Artwalk, The Outdoor Performance Center, The MUSE, Tucson Puppetworks, The Airplane Lounge, Las Sin Fronteras, The Youth Storefront, Dry River, Wingspan, The Luna Loca, The Oddvarks, Cafe Quebec, Shoe City, The Rialto, Radio Limbo, The Hoff House, The Dodge House, 7 Black Cats, The Punk House, Mr LuLu, The Sculpture Resource Center, ORTS and even and especially the filthy and disgusting Grill. The people who made all of those places exist and thrive taught me that art, music, and being of service to one another are the most important things you might ever do, because most of the rest of the world will put them last. Mr Dewey, and Mr Mark Beef are definitely counted in their numbers.
The things about Tucson that made me leave are the people who want to strangle that kind of fun out of a city, or sanitize it, and especially these people that despise the poor. One of the most shocking things I've ever seen in my life was city councilperson Carol West screaming at the newspaper hawkers at a city council meeting back in 2000, to "shut-up", and making jokes about opening more rehab centers for them to go to once they were out of jobs. This was our elected official (a democrat) plainly sponsoring legislation to get the poor and homeless off of the street because it was unsavory and hurt tourism, while barely trying to mask her contempt as she spoke vaguely of some safety issue. It is burned into my memory, that screaming.
There seems to be this false argument that you have to pick one or the other, new or old Tucson, and I just absolutely reject it. Sure, Tucson used to be a far shittier place, and some of the new sheen is welcomed, but at what cost? How could there not be room for the things that make Tucson different? And why do we favor spending money on new development of venues and restaurants over making art, music, and culture accessible to everyone and feeding our own poor and homeless? There must be a way that both Tucsons can exist.
It may be my own interpretation, but a part of "Keep Tucson Shitty" to me means don't try and whitewash over the uglier bits. Please, Tucson stop cannibalizing yourself in the name of progress. It's nice to be new and shiny and beautiful, but you have to find a way to feed your soul, too.
I got busted with 20 lbs. of herb in Tucson while this case was being adjudicated. Everybody in my "tank" was really uptight about Palacios. Never did get the full story until today----40 years later. The internet is a wondrous thing.
Typical american justice.
things like these are to be left alone as a Natives American such things are sacred places.
Wow. This is some of the best writing I've seen in a long time. Do you have more???
Who exactly is the "they" in "they should know"? Who exactly does "we" refer to in 'we all know." It sounds rather condescending but want to understand the particulars; perhaps you have information no one else does. Marty, if you have solid facts; deliver. If the best you have is vague accusations, then let us know that is all you have.
I am no fan of the MAS program which was always more about political indoctrination than educating people about their culture and their history. If the MAS zealots want to indoctrinate students they are free to start their own private schools and do just that. They could get all the substantial benefits that religious schools get in Arizona, and they would not have to worry about following HB 2281 or any other state law. Unless MAS supporters are willing to do that they should realize that the entire area now knows about the failure of education in MAS classrooms. They should know that we all know that the MAS program was no more successful in educating Mexican-American students than the standard TUSD programs. They should know that we all know that Augie Romero phonied the numbers to perpetuate the myth that 98+% of MAS students graduated. Finally, they should know we all know that the culturally relevant...and almost completely segregated...classes mandated by Master (or is that Massa) Hawley are nothing but window dressing for a district that would rather Mexican American students continue to fail so the district can continue to receive about $70 million a year in desegregation funding.
Having said all that, kudos to Ms. Herreras for exposing the misogyny that poisons this movement. The notion that women should step aside and let men dominate the movement is in keeping with the way other anti-democratic movements around the world operate.
The case in question is about ‘the power to change oppression’ versus the ‘oppressive power over others.’ How does Mexican-American Studies, an inherently multicultural critical educational model that embraces empowerment through love, awareness, and respect for all cultures, get implemented at the K-12 level in Arizona, “a state inhospitable to Latino residents,” as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Moreover, how does Arizona state law nearly undermine federal law in a predominantly Mexican-American community by abolishing an effective and successful educational program? Ironically, the controversial program was created specifically with a pedagogical and theoretical framework designed to confront the problems of racism and socioeconomic oppression and to create stable social-educational identities and engaging learning communities. It becomes particularly problematic and ironic because Arizona (and the greater US southwest) is Mexico (historically)—what the US conquered post-Mexican-American War with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848. In addition, the border culture is a hybrid culture comprised with culturally similar, but individually diverse people on both sides of the Mexic0-US border. I argue that the legal power of the courts and its legislative agency in the form of interest representation (of the majority-minority Mexican-American population) played a crucial role in the actual de jure implementation of Mexican-American Studies into the educational curriculum because of the 1978 Federal Mandate to desegregate Tucson Unified School District. Responding to the needs of the Mexican-American community, MAS is implemented to meet both the federal mandate and to satisfy the social, educational, and community needs of Mexican-American students and families.
Frankly, there is a neoliberal and neoconservative war on public education, and more broadly the public sector. In the broad battle in the public educational sector exists a connected front in the form of the P20K, English-Only and NCLB movements, and the related push to end ethnic studies is yet a new battle in this arena and is also a controversial topic in some multicultural and multilingual societies. In Arizona, there is a serious and multifaceted problem surrounding the nativist racism generally and the legality of Arizona discriminatory state laws pertaining to Mexican-Americans and to the banning of ethnic studies (Mexican-American Studies (MAS)) at Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), a district with a rich tradition of successful bidirectional bilingual education (IRDC). In addition, district officials and state political leaders contend that MAS’ educational curriculum and pedagogy is racist, ethnocentric, and insurrectionist. What is interesting about this case is how MAS got implemented in Arizona originally, and how despite federally mandated origins, the State of Arizona and TUSD persist with their crusade to end ethnic studies—almost successfully. The case crystallizes at several levels and various forms of agency are made evident. Interestingly, the MAS program was instituted due to a federal desegregation mandate to integrate students from a majority Latino community into the public education system, effectively aiming at balancing racial disparity in achievement and graduation. Somehow, the state of Arizona passed not one, but several state laws that are arguably either unconstitutional or contradictory to federal law or mandate, as in this specific case and the state legislation passed to ensure the complete demise of ethnic studies in public education. Nevertheless, oppositional actors involved using a narrative comprised of anti-Americanism, nativism, ethnocentrism, and codified xenophobic language to articulate an argument against MAS as promoting ethnic resentment (racial antagonism towards “other races”—other being white) and ethnic solidarity, social justice, and overthrow of the government. Some GOP TUSD School Board members have asserted that MAS is indoctrination, offering only one viewpoint not reflective of American exceptionalist history.
Further, stable identities directly affect motivation to learn and thus the potentiality for educational achievement. The case study examining the legal and political battle surrounding TUSD’s Mexican-American Studies program (which has consistently proven its effectiveness in yearly performance reports and creates stable identities in their pupils) serves as evidence for implementing a critical pedagogy (critical theory of education) in public education.
The main issues surrounding the problematic abolishing of Mexican-American Studies are directly tied to the actions from the court system because of an ongoing federal mandate to desegregate Tucson Unified School District. In short, TUSD has been under a federal desegregation order since 1978 that they have refused to comply with. The creation of the Mexican American Studies program is a direct result of that order’s legislative process over the last 30 years; subsequently, MAS in Tucson is a federally mandated program created by the courts in aimed at balancing racial disparity and funded by the local taxpayers.
As of December 2012, the demographics of the district were composed of: 62.4% Hispanic (of any race, primarily Mexican-American), 23.2% non-Hispanic Whites, 5.5% Black, 3.7% Native American, 2.4% Multi-racial, and 2.7% Asian, which relates to a total of 51,280 students. It follows that 31,976 were Hispanic (any race, primarily Mexican-American), 11910 non-Hispanic White, 2844 Black, 1913 Native-American, 1230 Multi-racial and 1407 Asian students. With this information, one would expect a curriculum that would somehow incorporate an accurate history of the Mexican-American experience and other minority groups without opposition. In Tucson, Arizona, that is exactly the opposite of what is—a 61% Mexican-American majority community, with a proven educational program, is being attacked legally and politically. As late as the 60s and 70s, deeply entrenched segregation plagued Tucson Unified School District. Therein lays the root of the problem of this case. The root of the desegregation dilemma in Tucson Unified lie in the past and posits how TUSD, which was a national model for desegregation prior to Brown v. Board of Education, become enmeshed in such racial and ethnic controversy? Moreover, how did it come under federal mandate to desegregate amidst charges that Mexican-American children were being given an inferior education (ironically that led the federal government to passage of federal funding for Bilingual Education as well)? Put into context, the campaign to end Mexican-American Studies, or ethnic studies more generally, reflects the political environment in Arizona—arguably inhospitable to Mexican-Americans as evidenced by the presence and anti-American\anti-immigration rhetoric reflected in the discourse of many leaders, most infamously, Sheriff Joe Arapaio among others.
MAS professors for me, give us a glimpse of mentorship and a side of academia not really seen elsewhere. Their consciousness of the historical experience of Chicana/o students and their experiences ascending through the academy create a unique space for teaching and learning where the relationship between professor and student is more equal. In MAS, the body of knowledge comes from our professors and Chicano scholarship, as well as the students and even the community. At times, most MAS professors allow us to call them by their first name. The classes and course content is not easy, rather it is very reading and writing intensive, due to the inherent nature of critical reflection and analysis. In transforming society, our professors motivate and mentor us through the graduate program and encourage regular meetings with them to demystify the professor-student relationship found in graduate school. Coming from political science and political philosophy, MAS opened my eyes and refined my views on things I either never knew or thought I knew all too well. It has broadened my horizons and prepared me in ways I never knew possibly—including creating a confidence I thought I had lost long ago, and reinforcing a strong pride for my culture and people. What is taught in traditional schools is basically a romanticized, abridged, edited, and glamourized version of Anglo, really Euro-American history; certain narratives are reproduced and ideologies repromulgated. MAS and ethnic studies offers an objective and inclusive view of history, society, and politics.
In perspective to race relations and racial justice, ethnic studies and Mexican-American Studies are key agents in fighting racist structures because these scholarly disciplines are themselves agential products of the Civil Rights eras. Ethnic studies arose out of the Civil Rights area, taking an interdisciplinary approach and emerging on several college campuses in the late 1960s and 1970s. Extending this to the Mexican-American ethnic group, the Chicano Movement and its activist scholars indigenously produced its own scholarship evolving between Raza Studies, Chicano Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Mexican American Studies. Yet, RACISM IS NOT DYING. About 80-90% of all nonviolent drug crimes are by young black & Latino males, yet drug use & dealing is actually higher in the white community. It’s the New Jim Crow. After the great recession & foreclosure meltdown, most of the new homeless were disproportionately black & Latino. Prisons detain thousands of transnational migrant workers...for profit AND they predict building future prisons based in the standardized test scores of 3rd grade Latino & black boys. And, Ethnic studies is under attack nationwide, and now in Texas, eliminating the choice for people of color to take alternate US history courses in the ethnic studies disciplines. Racism is alive and we must actively fight it and not believe the myth of post racial America. MAS gives me the critical lens to analyze these pressing issues.
What’s more is the nature and history of American immigration and the multiculturalism, multingualism, and diversity that America is supposed to reflect. Euro-Americans were never a monolithic group, and neither has the thread of the fabric of American culture and history. MAS and ethnic studies incorporate critical theories of education which inherently reflect respect, diversity, and multiculturalism—awareness and equality of all races, not Brown or Black superiority. With so many different ethnic and national origin groups in the US, ethnic studies makes sense, especially in demographically minority-majority local districts and states. Targeting laws towards ethnic studies, specifically Chicano Studies, is targeting a specific racial subgroup—an ethnic group—within large multitude of American identities—not mention racist. Ethnic studies are rife in American history, but historically were Euro-American. If ethnic studies were to be integrated into the broad curriculum, then vestiges of racism and categorization analysis would dissipate. All students, including white students, benefit from these courses. These courses remind of the true history of America—the hardship, the struggles, the inhumanity, impunity, along with the great victories and advances. If we ignore the actuality of history, then we’re not teaching true history. The history of America is revolutionary—to seek relief from oppression from the British. The Civil Rights struggles made America better—ethnic studies make America better. Moreover, ethnic studies highlight the contributions of Chicanos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and other minorities to the building of this nation.
Multiculturalism and critical education can also break racial and ethnic societal divisions and allow for a multicultural/multiracial broad-based coalition or movement. Critical education infused with multiculturalism of the public masses like this will be conducive to stable identities, accurate understanding of the past, and will lead to better race/societal relations and socioeconomic advancement—greater achievement gaps and access to higher education for people of color, social mobility. Further, critical education will facilitate the transition in race relations to forge a successful multicultural/multiracial-class coalition and broad-based movement that on the macro scale fuses coalition/movement politics with electoral politics and syncretizes the processes and strategies of mobilization, organization, public education, where again the role of education both with the movement and within the academy are vital.
Life is an adventure, esp. in Arizona. Love all the comments and stories. With all the high tech electronics, why are they not being used to solve these mysteries.
So why aren't the environmental groups fights against the Arizona Public Service that wants to charge solar panel users a $100 month fee for using solar power. Republicans are against any form of wind, solar, etc. They hate non renewable energy.
They prefer the pollution of coal and oil. Lobbyist funding to them is more important than the clean air or the health of the people.
Solar energy should be #1 in Arizona with all the sun power, but Republicans will surely defeat solar power in the next few years. They are even taxing the manufacturing of solar panels now, forcing them to leave Arizona.
The TRASHING of Arizona is from all the people of Arizona, don't blame one group. Just travel the road up to Mt. Lemon and look over the sides of the viewing areas. The trash of plastic and bottle are 3/4 ft high over the side of the mountain. This is not the illegals trash.
The real reason for so much trash is that Republicans will NOT pass a bottle return bill, so that plastic and glass beverage bottles can be returned for a deposit. The beverage lobbyist has bought out the Republicans, so they will not even bring up a vote for bottle returns nor can we get it on the ballot for the all in Arizona to vote on.
Majority of the trash would not happen if a bottle/plastic returns bill was passed.
Thank you for your courageous words, Ms. Herrera and all the women who continue to give voice to the injustices women continue to face in "liberatory" movements.
No struggle for justice ever succeeds by diminishing, harassing, and abusing women. May we learn from history and build a strong, inclusive, anti-patriarchal movement. I applaud the women who have given voice to this critique. I know it takes a lot of courage.
The "Anglo centrist, narrow perspective" bullshit was covered in 8th grade history. White Europeans in greater numbers with longer guns came and took what they pleased. That's all that needs to be said.
The world if full of conquered countries and nothing is going to change that until the next batch of bastards come in greater numbers with longer guns.
Of course the fact that the MEXICANS were busy fighting with EACH OTHER certainly made it that much easier. And the Mexicans who weren't fighting were easily bought off. That's the Mexican way.
thank you for these words. they offer a vital reminder of the ways we are still learning how to walk the talk: "in lak ech... was it in theory only, or were we really living it?" on the path we are learning the vital lesson that attacks within ethnic studies are also attacks against ethnic studies, that our communities are not immune from carrying out the racial and colonial violence we have survived but that colonialism and racism depend on the deployment of misogynous violence within our communities, that the injustice experienced by those marginalized in our communities (including but not limited to young, undocumented, queer/trans chicanxs and chicanas) is not only relevant to the movement but central to it. if we measure a movement's success through the lens of in lak ech, then the struggle in tucson shows something far from defeat, rather it shows a painful yet vital step toward deep healing, transformation and decolonization. history will keep repeating the lessons, offering a chance to grow, to recognize that a path of political consistency with regard to all the myriad forms of violence our communities experience is vital for the well-being, sustainability and future of a community, that the justice sought and deserved by the most marginalized among us should be the justice pursued by us all, that each time we choose to go against mi otro yo, we choose to go against ourselves, that none of us raza is safe if any one of us is not safe. les mando mucha energía desde el fondo del corazón a lxs q luchan en arizona, bellísima tierra ancestral hacia un nuevo amanecer, teaching us and opening the door for new ways to see ourselves, to organize and to make liberatory movements. humbled and honored by the courage of your struggle.
At the center of this story is MAS, which is a story onto itself and which Mari Herrera has written more about than any journalist in Tucson, for that matter, in the country. MA courses and what they stand for all tie to providing another perspective to students; one that is relevant. The Anglo-centric curriculum simply is too narrow and cheats students of other relevant perspectives. Since the vast majority of the curriculum remains Anglo-centric, a few classes which provide a Mexican American and African American perspective should have resulted in the Horne/Huppenthal/Stegeman festered phobia that is based on the believe that only one single narrow perspective is ample. Horne started the frenzy with his crazed and biased law; Huppenthal has kept to his campaign promise to eliminate MAS and Stegeman has willingly jumped on their band wagon, voting against curriculum, courses, etc. that pertain to Mexican American perspectives.
Herrera has exposed some of the underbelly of the MAS movement and while it is uncomfortable for many, and joyful for those that like to see the so called division, placing that information in the light forces accountability. Misogyny, in its many hate-filled forms has caused great personal and political harm but it has not broken the activist movement in its entirety. One corner of that movement has imploded, much due to their arrogant egos, general reckless behavior- inclusive of their anti-womyn actions. In the long run, this implosion may support the entire movement in moving forward without gender-based barriers and heedless actions. The people behind these misguided egos have clearly been identified and their misogynist behavior has been called out. Some continue to spew their hate in various forms, for example, by robotically stating that “MAS is dead” or by stating that the culturally relevant courses that are now being proposed have been watered down (without any type of factual comparison) or by suggesting that desegregation money be taken away from TUSD or by repeatedly attacking many of the womyn within the movement. All of these efforts point back to condescending egos who insist on having it their way or no way at all. With continued exposure their credibility will continue to erode. The Tucson Weekly should continue to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly on all issues, including this one and Herrera should not allow intimidation tactics from the misogynist bullies to silence her.
i am grateful that someone is using their power and reach as a local professional to ensure that more than one narrative is seen as valid, important and truthful. i wish that was the case for so many more MAS-involved people in the Tucson community.
shame on the MAS teachers for not supporting a survivor of sexual violence
Hopefully back into the black, racist, traitorous hole it came from. My biggest question is why was Isabel Garcia not fired from the county attorneys office when she exposed her racist side, her credibility of being non-biased had to became a liability for that office.
Having done more than any other local journalist to expose the petty infighting and general ineptitude that characterizes the MAS/SES mob, shouldn't Mari Herreras be recognized with some kind of journalism award? And would it matter if she's never realized she's been doing it?
Ms. Herreras evidently can't see the forest for the trees. The rest of us are alternately amused and disgusted by the whole spectacle.
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