Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Counterspell: 50 For Freedom of Speech/NYC, in protest of the banning of books in Arizona

If you're not familiar with the story in Arizona, then take a few minutes to get educated:

From The Progressive, January 2012:  http://www.progressive.org/banned_in_tucson.html

Here's the Salon article cited by the Progressive:  http://www.salon.com/2012/01/13/whos_afraid_of_the_tempest/

And here are a few videos to drive home the point.  

Tony Diaz, founder of Librotraficante, explaining the practical impact of the Arizona law, the end of Mexican-American studies, and the banning of books, at a panel organized by students and scholars at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City:

And here are Sergio Troncoso and myself at the same event, on Latino literature and censorship:

The actions of a few politicians in Arizona, riled up by the hate in the hearts of those without empathy or human understanding, constitute a spell against intellect, against immigrants, against education, and against dignity.  And make no mistake, it is spreading from state to state.

I believe in counterspells.   

This is why Acentos is joining up with Librotraficante, and a coalition of like-minded Latino creatives in NYC (Latino Rebels, Sangre Viva, Capicu Cultural Showcase, and La Casa Azul Bookstore) to participate in a national day of action...a zafa, if you will...against the de facto banning of Latino literature in Tucson, Arizona, and wherever else it's being considered.

The New York City gathering will feature the banned Puerto Rican author and award-winning poet Martín Espada (Zapata’s Disciple), as well as Tejano author Sergio Troncoso (The Last Tortilla and Other Stories), as well as the public readings of other banned book texts by some of New York City’s top Latino academic, literary and spoken word talent.

Also reading are Bonafide Rojas, Miguel Ángel Ángeles and John Murillo; Peggy Robles-Alvarado, María Rodríguez, and Nancy Arroyo-Ruffin will be reading from Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street; Juan “Papo Swiggity” Santiago, Mark Anthony Vigo, and José Vilson will be reading from Luis Rodriguez' Always Running; and John Rodríguez, Grisel Acosta, Isabel Martínez, Elizabeth Calixto, and Vincent Toro will be reading from Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America.

The reading will be taking place on September 21st, from 6pm-8pm at La Casa Azul books: 143 East 103rd Street, NYC (6 train to 103rd St.)  

I posted the following on Facebook a few days ago.  It bears repeating, and sharing...

What we need to understand is that the banning of books in Arizona, the end of Mexican-American studies in Arizona, did not happen yesterday. It happened in January. And the debate is even older than that.

We waited until the administrators of the Tucson school district marched into classrooms, boxed up books, and physically removed them. And when we found our outrage, the national media turned away from the story and stood by, again, when teachers and administrators were fired.
It has taken the efforts of tireless educators, activists, and groups like Librotraficante to keep our attention focused, and to keep the heat on Arizona, a state which has already shown the nation that they are willing to throw civil liberties and young people under the bus. And still, I get email and notes from otherwise thoughtful people who are only now hearing about the banning of books, who are surprised this could happen in the United States.
How long do we wait to stand up to genocide? Understand, the first step in erasing people is erasing their literature. How long do we wait? Until the authorities find it in their interests, or in the interests of "the citizens," or in the interests of national security, to round up whole groups of people by the dozens, the hundreds, the thousands? Do you think it impossible? Or confined to Arizona?
You will be erased if you don't wake up. Your history will be invalidated. And the authors of your destruction will hide behind the law to do it. Don't let them.

“I know what the world has done to my brother and how narrowly he has survived it. And I know, which is much worse, and this is the crime of which I accuse my country and my countrymen, and for which neither I nor time nor history will ever forgive them, that they have destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives and do not know it and do not want to know it. One can be, indeed one must strive to become, tough and philosophical concerning destruction and death, for this is what most of mankind has been best at since we have heard of man. (But remember: most of mankind is not all of mankind.) But it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”
-James Baldwin, THE FIRE NEXT TIME
Banned in the Tucson Unified School District

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