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Silencing Talk about Race: Why Arizona's Prohibition of Ethnic Studies Violates Equality

47 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2017 Last revised: 2 Nov 2017

M. Isabel Medina

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

Date Written: October 27, 2017

Abstract

In 2010, Arizona made national headlines when it enacted laws targeting undocumented immigrants, perceived in the state to be primarily Mexican. Arizona experienced population growth that projected it would become a minority majority state within one or two decades. Republican politicians spearheaded a ban on ethnic studies, with its intended target a successful Mexican American studies program at the Tucson Unified School District. The Mexican American studies program was initiated as part of a desegregation decree in ongoing desegregation litigation against the Tucson Unified School District. State superintendents of education in Arizona branded the program “racist” because students were encouraged to think critically about U.S. history and question the role that race plays in the development of U.S. society. This Article examines ethnic studies, their role as a desegregation remedy, and in crafting a more accurate and informed view of history. Ethnic studies are a vibrant and vital educational tool to explore and challenge established historical and cultural orthodoxies that adversely affect formation of individual and group identity, and they encourage and develop critical thinking about race and ethnicity in all student populations. This Article contends that state efforts to prohibit ethnic studies programs are constitutionally infirm and should engage strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause because they classify and prohibit curricular content and offerings on the basis of race or ethnicity, burdening only minority races.

Keywords: Ethnic Studies; Education; Desegregation; Race; Equality; Curriculum

JEL Classification: I

Suggested Citation

Medina, M. Isabel, Silencing Talk about Race: Why Arizona's Prohibition of Ethnic Studies Violates Equality (October 27, 2017). 45 Hastings Const. L.Q. 47 (2017); Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Research Paper No. 2017-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3060573

M. Medina (Contact Author)

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law ( email )

7214 St. Charles Ave., Box 901
Campus Box 901
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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