The class huddled around my laptop. Their efforts to be silent made the anticipation palpable. We had been invited to speak on NPRs Call-In Radio and the broadcast was under way. Omar and Diana, elected to be our spokespeople, sat together on the other side of the room, waiting to be brought on the air to discuss HB 2281, Arizonas controversial ethnic studies ban. Talking points had been discussed and collectively decided upon.
This is perfect timing, the radio host said, because Devin Carberry is calling in right now. Devin is a teacher at ARISE high school over in Oakland and is calling in with his class. Devin, how are you talking about this with your students?
Good morning, I answered, tensing at the awkward 15-second delay before we heard my voice coming out of a laptop speaker. I am trying to cultivate my students as leaders, so Im going to pass the phone to them.
Omar picked up the phone and introduced himself. We are really engaged by this topic because we see whats happening in Arizona is wrongthat they are going into schools and taking away peoples history.
What was your reaction? the host asked.
I was shocked. They are treating books and knowledge like weapons by confiscating them from students and suspending classes having to do with Mexican American Studies.
Omar passed the phone to Diana, who was visibly nervous. It reminds me of the movie Walkout. History is repeating itself. Back then they didnt let Latino students use the bathrooms or speak Spanish in their classrooms. The banning of books made me mad because they are obviously trying to . . . hide the truth that for 500 years we have been oppressed. I feel like its time to fight back.
The host thanked us for joining the show, we logged off, and the students applauded. Then, energized, we went back to our study of the attack on Tucsons Mexican American Studies (MAS) program.