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Jim Crow Arizona & HB 2281

Updated on September 2, 2013

HB 2281:An Overview

There is a wealth of information available on the internet concerning HB 2281 and the controversy surrounding the passage of this bill.For the benefit of those who have not closely followed this important case I will give a brief overview of the bill followed by a timeline of events.

On May 11, 2010 Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2281 which prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that :

•Promotes the overthrow of the federal or state government or the constitution.

•Promotes resentment toward any race or class

•Advocates ethnic solidarity instead of being individuals

•Are designed for a certain ethnicity

courtesy of
courtesy of | Source

HB 2281:A Timeline

April 11,2010: the Arizona state legislature passed HB 2281, which was
signed by Governor Jan Brewer.

October 2010:Eleven ethnic studies teachers of the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American studies program, file a lawsuit claiming the law infringed the constitutional rights of Hispanic teachers and students to free speech and equal protection.

Janurary 2011:On his last day as Superintendent of Public Instruction ,Tom Horne (currently Arizona State Attorney General) declares the TUSD MAS program in violation of HB 2281

January 2011: Newly appointed State Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal, also declares that Tucson’s Mexican American studies program was in violation of HB 2281.

June 2011:The board of the Tucson Unified School District appeals the ruling.

June 2011:Cambium Learning Group conducts an independent audit of Tucson's Ethnic studies program.A 120 page report submitted by the group found that Tucson Ethnic Studies programs were in compliance with HB 2281.

December 2011: Judge Lewis Kowal, administrative law judge, affirmed Huppenthal’s decision in a 37-page finding, and determined that the program presented material in a “biased, political and emotionally charged manner.”,and continued by saying that the Mexican American studies program had “one or more classes designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment, and advocating ethnic solidarity” and was thus in violation of state law.

January 2012: the Tucson Unified School District complied with HB2281 and voted to dismantle Mexican American Studies classes.Non-compliance would have resulted in the loss of over 15 million dollars in state funding.

March 8,2013:Judge A. Wallace Tashima ( US District Court for the District of Arizona) finds three out of four sections of the law to be constitutional and denied a second motion for a preliminary injunction.

HB 2281 vs. Alex Haley and Roots

This section addresses two conditions of HB2281: a.that Ethnic Studies may cause racial resentment b.That Ethnic Studies may promote the overthrow of the government.

The Nazi Party in the 1930s began censoring art,books,and other publications that may have cast a negative light on the Nazi regime, or that may have been contrary to Nazi philosophy.The similarities between Nazi Germany and what has happened in Arizona are striking to say the least.There is no evidence to suggest that teaching children the truth about American history and about their ethnic heritage will lead to the violent overthrow of the United States government.In truth,a repressive regime is more likely to be overthrown than a government that encourages openness and freedom of expression.If we subscribe to this kind of logic,then there should have been a black uprising in the United States during the late 1970s. Let me explain.

The Alex Haley book entitled "Roots",and the subsequent T.V. mini-series that followed,presented a detailed account of the pain,suffering,and degradations of African slaves at the hands of their white European slavemasters.It also highlighted the apathy and indifference of many European Americans ,who, while not directly participating in the slave trade,also benefited from it.In 1977,Roots was a ground-breaking event in U.S. television history that reached a record-breaking 130 million viewers. It won 9 Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. It received very high Nielsen Ratings,and as far as I know the finale still stands as the 3rd highest rated U.S. program ever. Roots was a success because it crossed racial lines and captivated the interest of families in all ethnic groups.36 years later,in spite of the fact that the reality of "Roots" was very painful for many African Americans to watch,and in spite of the fact that it cast a negative light on generations of white European Americans,there has been no concentrated effort by the black community here in America to overthrow the government.

Let us not think for a moment that black viewers were not outraged when reading the book, or when watching the horrific scenes of inhumanity that were played out on television screens across America.It is not unreasonable to assume that in 1977, just a few years away from the epicenter of the most explosive Civil Rights movement in American history,that the spectacle of Roots might create or rekindle resentment toward whites among many black viewers.Of course it did.How could it not? Many of the viewers had most likely themselves experienced some form of overt racism.Yet,the absence of a widespread violent reaction during and following the airing of the mini-series, reveals that the majority of black viewers were able to move beyond any anger or resentment that may have been caused by watching the program.In fact,rather than wallowing in resentment or seeking to overthrow the government,since 1977, African Americans have become more and more active in local,state,and national politics,working within the system to correct the inequities of racist government policies.Barrack Obama ,the current president of the United States, is a prime example of this movement toward cooperation rather than separation.

Imagine what might have happened in 1977 had this current group of "Arizona Patriots" been in control of the Federal government."Roots", would have most likely been banned from the airwaves,accompanied by grand arguments of how racially divisive and socially disruptive it would be to the American public.

 The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

HB 2281 vs. Black Solidarity

This section addresses 3 conditions of HB2281: a.that Ethnic Solidarity unfairly divides students along racial lines while minimizing the importance of the individual b.that Ethnic Studies may cause racial resentment c.That Ethnic Studies may promote the overthrow of the government.

To use ethnic solidarity as an excuse for racially motivated censorship is not only a ridiculous notion,but it is also a not so subtle mockery of one of the greatest Civil Rights leaders of the last century. Had there not been solidarity among African Americans during the 1960s,the Civil Rights movement could have never succeeded.Tom Horne,the author of HB 2281,who likes to point out that he marched with Martin Luther King back in the day,is well aware of the important role ethnic solidarity played among African Americans during those crucial years.Mr.Horne likes to point to his relationship with Dr.King as proof that he is not a racist.Someone needs to tell Mr.Horne that he can't have it both ways.The very foundation of the Black Civil Rights movement was built on ethnic solidarity.Before he became fashionable among liberal white Americans,Dr.King had already established himself as a leader in the black community.It wasn't until the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Dec.1955 that King came to the attention of many white Americans.The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a well planned and executed affair that had the overwhelming support of the black community,at least in Montgomery,otherwise the boycott could not have succeeded.What's that spell? S-O-L-I-D-A-R-I-T-Y !

Of course I could provide the reader with many examples of Black Solidarity throughout the Civil Rights movement,here are just a few:

• August 28,1963: Martin Luther King leads an interracial assembly of over
200,000 near Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to demand equal
justice for all citizens.It was here that he delivered the famous,:"I Have A
Dream" speech.

•July 2,1964: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

•August 5,1965: Voting Rights Act passed in order to overcome legal
barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from
exercising their right to vote .

•October 16,1995: Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam,
organized the Million Man March for Washington, D.C. to promote African
American unity (solidarity) and values. Estimates of the number of
marchers, most of whom were African American men, ranged from 500,000
to nearly 1.1 million.

Like I said,Tom Horne can't have it both ways.If the ethnic solidarity of African Americans was acceptable to him in the 1960s,acceptable enough for him to march with Dr, King, then it follows that he should have no qualms about the ethnic solidarity of Mexican Americans in 2013.

HB 2281 vs. Mexican American Studies

This section addresses the conditions of HB2281 that asserts Ethnic Studies may cause racial resentment and that it is designed for one ethnic group.

There are two points I would like to make concerning the claim that MAS was designed for one particular ethnic group.First of all ,since 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled against segregated public schools in Brown v. Board of Education,minority students have been learning American history through courses that were designed for a "certain ethnicity": white European Americans.

The second point I would like to make is that the claim that the Tucson Ethnic Studies program was designed for one particular ethnic group is both true and not true.It is an ambiguous notion that illustrates a common practice in "legalese",which is to create legislation that is worded in such a way as to allow unscrupulous politicians the ability to unfairly manipulate a particular statue or law to their advantage.

Of course MAS was created for Mexican American children.But it was also created for any student who might be interested in American history from a broader perspective.Here is the "Catch 22" as it looks in written form:

1.The mainstream refuses to provide an accurate and comprehensive view of American History which portrays the struggles,accomplishments,and contributions of Mexican Americans as well as other minority groups.

2.Mexican Americans are forced to develop an Ethnic Studies program to address this discrepancy in the system.

3.Over 14 years after the program begins,a provision is provided in HB 2281 which makes it illegal for an Ethnic group to improve the system by providing historical balance to an otherwise biased and Eurocentric view of American History.

I would now like to bring to the readers attention an often overlooked fact in the debate over HB 2281.From the perspective of a teacher whose goal is to better the socio-economic and political future of his students,it would be counter-productive and in fact suicidal to alienate white students from an Ethnic Studies course or to purposely stir up resentment among minority students against whites.Once again,the Black Civil Rights movement in this country over the last 60 years provides us with clear evidence that such a movement can only succeed with the approval and support of the white majority.If we review the American landscape at the end of the Civil War to the end of World War II, we find that there was no shortage of African American activists and leaders demanding justice and equality.Fredrick Douglas,Ida B.Wells,and W.E.B. Du Bois quickly come to mind.However,even though their efforts laid the groundwork for what was yet to come,it was still not enough to win the support of a majority of white Americans,and without that support, we can see that there was very little advancement in the struggle for racial equality until the 1960s.

I honestly can't say which provision of this bill is more preposterous.Here is a good example: Most school children who belong to F.F.A. (Future Farmers of America) happen to be children who live on a farm and whose parents are farmers.It is safe to say that this program was designed for these kind of children.Yet,this fact doesn't preclude children living in the city or the suburbs from participating in the program.The reality of F.F.A. is that it is usually more appealing to children who live on farms and have access to farm animals.The reality of MAS is that this type of study is usually more appealing to children who are of Mexican American heritage.Gee Mr.Wizard!...that makes sense.So what's the problem here?

In order to remove the "Catch 22" and close the loophole in this particular provision of HB 2218,the wording "Are designed for a certain ethnicity" should be changed to "Are designed to exclude a certain ethnicity".This would at least allow a more just application of the law.

courtesy | Source

HB 2281:Judge Ignores Cambium Report

In January 2011, Arizona Schools Superintendent John Huppenthal alleged that Tucson's Mexican American Studies program violated all but the first provision of HB 2218. However, an audit later conducted by Texas-based Cambium Learning Inc. (which was commissioned by Huppenthal himself) found that none of the four conditions of the law were violated by any of the various literature, history, government or art courses offered by the program.The report concludes that "no observable evidence was present to suggest that any classroom within Tucson Unified School District is in direct violation of the law" .

In addition, the report stated,"High school juniors taking a MAS course are more likely to pass the reading and writing portion of the AIMS subject tests if they had previously failed those tests in their sophomore year. Consequently, high school seniors enrolled in a MAS course are more likely to graduate than their peers.Anywhere from five to 11 percent more likely". In spite of this glowing report, in December 2011,Judge Lewis Kowal, determined that the Tucson Mexican American Studies program was in violation of HB 2281.It is important to note that this ruling was made without any substantiated evidence being presented to contradict the Cambium audit.

HB 2281:Racially Motivated Legislation

In the glaring light of history, Tom Horne and his cronies cannot possibly believe that MAS was designed to purposely exclude any student ,overthrow the U.S. government or cause resentment among Mexican American children.They simply know better.Neither can they claim that their fears of a "Mexican Uprising" in the public school system was due to a lack of hindsight or precedent.They had the benefit of over 40 years of hindsight.The precedent set by "Roots" in 1977 is one example.The nationwide implementation of Ethnic Studies programs in colleges and major universities since the late 1960s is another.The Civil Rights legislation that has been passed since the early 60's is yet another.These precedents when taken together as a whole reveal the absurdity of HB 2281's provisions.

Are we to believe that Mexican Americans are somehow more predisposed to outbreaks of violence than African Americans?Are we to believe that an ethnic group which makes up less than 16% of the total U.S. population ,having no military or infrastructure from which to launch an offensive,poses a threat to the most powerful nation in the world?Are we also to believe that solidarity is a negative trait, when it is the mortar which has bonded and held together the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people, from 1864 to 1964, and beyond? Tom Horne and his co-conspirators don't believe any of this crap either.They all lived through the 60's and they have all been quite active in the world since then.They simply know better.

Having now exposed each provision of HB 2281 as a farce, it should now be apparent that the current leadership of Arizona is simply using the censorship of Ethnic Studies to further a political agenda.That agenda being: to maintain white supremacy in the government of Arizona, with policies and tactics aimed at discouraging Mexican Americans and so called "Hispanic" voters from immigrating to Arizona, while at the same time providing incentives for those already there to leave.But these are just two elements of a much broader conspiracy,which I will explain in the next section.

One final note:According to a 2007 Arizona demographic: Asian Americans made up less than 3% of the total population, African Americans less than 4%,Native Americans less than 6%,while the "Hispanic" or "Latino" population was nearly 30% .The math here is pretty easy to do.The Latino vote in Arizona has become a political threat to racist elements of the diminishing white majority.The rise of "Jim Crow" in the South following the Civil War was due to the same reason, except that instead of Latinos,it was African Americans who were soon to outnumber them at the polls.

Old Tucson_courtesy
Old Tucson_courtesy | Source

HB 2281: Psychological Warfare

The racist politicians of Arizona have no illusions that the dismantling of MAS will prevent Hispanic children from learning the truth about American history.In fact,just the opposite has already occurred.The passage of HB 2281 has predictably increased solidarity among Mexican Americans throughout the United States,and many teachers and activists have begun to offer Ethnic Studies outside of the classroom.But this polarizing effect is of no great concern to the leadership of Arizona,in fact,it only helps to further their agenda.

This is simply because the greater purpose of HB 2281 was to generate resentment in the Hispanic community toward whites and the government of Arizona.As a result ,it was anticipated that there would be many well publicized protests against the bill,locally and throughout the nation.This public outcry,following directly on the heels of the controversial SB 1070 immigration bill,would lead white Arizona voters to make a mental connection between illegal immigration and Ethnic Studies.The timing here was very important in order to implant this association into the collective mind of the white majority.The words that are used in the provisions of the bill are actually keywords designed to trigger fear and negative emotions among white voters:

• promotes the overthrow the U.S. government

• provokes resentment

• advocates ethnic solidarity

The keywords I have listed here which constitute the thrust of HB 2281, have now, over the course of several years,been repeatedly associated with "Illegal Immigration ","Ethnic Studies","Latino","Mexican American",and "Hispanic". Every time this bill has been debated or talked about in the media,these keywords have been present. These associations can only serve to increase anti-Mexican American sentiment among white voters.Furthermore,many white voters who were previously "on the fence",or neutral toward the Latino community are now likely to become defensive as a result of these associations,and as a result be more inclined to adopt and support the racist policies of the state of Arizona.Thus fulfilling the greater purpose of HB 2281 and SB 1060.

I believe the credit for conceptualizing this successful deception must go to Tom Horne.The complexities of such a concept are obviously well beyond the mental reach of Jan Brewer or John Huppenthal.I believe their role was simply the monkey work of following someone else's lead.Of course,what I have just described is a common tactic employed in the execution of psychological warfare,and Tom Horne's experience in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, would have given him valuable insight into methods of manipulating public sentiment from both sides of the fence.

Phoenix Arizona_courtesy of
Phoenix Arizona_courtesy of | Source


The fact is, there should have never been a need for Ethnic Studies programs in the first place. The Public School System throughout the United States should be teaching history as it really happened:The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly;not just history from a white washed European perspective.A perspective that makes murderers like Christopher Columbus and slaveowners (kidnapers) like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson look like heroes, while portraying the indigenous people and other minorities as the unfortunate, but necessary casualties of Manifest Destiny.

And so I now appeal to the reader: What does it really matter if the truth about America might make a child uncomfortable?Should we also hide the reality of the Jewish Holocaust,or the ill treatment of the Irish by their English overlords ,in order to shield and protect the sensibilities of future generations?For fear that the truth might make one child angry?Or that one child might be ashamed?

How will this serve humanity?Hasn't it been said many times before,that those who are ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat it?If we allow this to continue,then what kind of a future can we expect for these children who have been given up to chance,without fear nor understanding,who will soon go walking blindly through a minefield?

Ethnic Studies programs have only attempted to reveal the truth about America.A truth that the mainstream has for years omitted or tried to cover up.The American educational system has sought to revise history; to smooth out the rough edges;to put over 500 years of slavery and genocide into a nice,neat,little package,tucked away in some far corner of the American psyche to be viewed as nothing more than a mere incidental relic of the past.Historical revisionism adversely affects all students regardless of their ethnic background, or the color of their skin.

Censorship is the weapon of cowards who live in fear of the future, and it is a wall behind which evil men seek to hide their past as well as their evil ambitions. Censorship has no place in a free society.Censorship denies law abiding citizens the right to make their own choices.Censorship promises to save us by denying us our freedom.It is a tool of the slavemaster,forged by the same hand that made the whip,the chain and the shackle.Censorship and oppression are the true enemies of peace and democracy,not truth or knowledge.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Arizona_courtesy | Source

© 2013 Ronnie wrenchBiscuit


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    • wrenchBiscuit profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 

      2 years ago


      The people who are commonly designated as Hispanic and Latino are "not" culturally and genetically primarily European. Overall, a great majority of the people of Mexico, Central America, and South America, are Indigenous people, many of whom have very little European blood. Those living in these areas who are primarily Spaniard are of a lighter skin, and play the same role as the so-called "white people" of the northern hemisphere.

      They have assumed the position of the superior race, and control a majority of the wealth in the squatter nations of the southern hemisphere. The Christian religion, the Spanish language, and other European traditions have been forced upon the people. All of this is part and parcel of a system of genocide. Terms such as Hispanic and Latino help to erode, and to destroy the cultural identity of the Indigenous people. Such terms are like water dripping on a rock. They may appear to be harmless, but over a period of time they are as deadly as an atomic bomb.

      Of course there is much resentment over the rape and murder of the Indigenous people. The Americans glorify rape, murder, and genocide each year in celebrations such as Columbus Day and the 4th of July. Even a European should resent such an abomination. I am part German, and I do not accept a nation founded on such evil. Nor do I accept being referred to as an American, or Native American. To the best of my knowledge I am Aniyunwiya/German and I primarily identify with my Indigenous heritage. I would never dishonor my ancestors by embracing the evil that destroyed a civilization, and then sought to assimilate what was left into their great "melting pot". The European never wanted to mix cultures. They only wanted to destroy the Indigenous and African cultures and replace them with their own. They want us all to be "white" on the inside. But during the last 20-30 years, more and more people have begun to educate themselves about the evil of America.

      You speak of the "good" of America, but I can see very little. Even the poor and white working class are enslaved by the capitalists, and live out their lives in a state of perpetual servitude. To suggest that the standard of living here is higher than many other countries is no different than suggesting that one dog has it better because he has a longer leash. Even Adolf Hitler admired Andrew Jackson because of Jackson's successful removal of the Five Civilized Tribes from the southern region of the United States.

      The white supremacists do not want a true and accurate history of America being taught in the public school system, because the truth will surely set a man free. I am free today, not because a group of rapists, murderers, and thieves made declarations on pieces of worthless paper, but because God has given me the ability to accept, and to understand the truth.

    • wrenchBiscuit profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 

      2 years ago

      Thanks for reading, and your thoughtful commentary. I cannot give an appropriate answer at the moment, but I will respond within several days when time permits.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      2 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I went to school in rural Georgia, Berrien County High School. I was taught by my history teacher, US HISTORY teacher, who was also a football coach, that the US was a racist bastard nation.

      My teacher was White. I lived in the heart of the Confederacy culturally but still I managed to be taught that America was a bastard nation. By the time I finished with Coach V's class I hated my heritage and thought we should be a colony to the British crown again.

      I am all for teaching the truth in class, but to the victor goes how the truth is packaged. It was WRONG of Coach V to purposely teach us to hate the US. He did not just give perspective in class. He taught us Rural folks to hate ourselves.

      This is not what you are advocating in this article, which I do assume from having read it. Knowing that slavery existed in this nation and that it was wrong and that the people realized it and made a change to remedy it is the history I hope we can advocate. Letting kids know that all races helped to make this nation great despite the fact that some races had a cultural advantage.

      I love America and all its ugly. I am not happy that we did the bad things we did, but it is the principles of this nation that makes it great and how we try to follow those high ideas. WE stumble due to racism, sexism and arrogance, but we rise with each generation to more closely resemble the principles of freedom we espouse in our national culture. It is okay to tell the truth as long as we do it in a way to build upon the good.

      America is good. The Good outweighs the bad. It does not excuse the bad. I would rather live in this nation with its history than any other because it is our history and is a part of us. We have to make it better than our progenitors did. Knowing that our leaders and founding fathers were flaw people is fine, but it seems that most groups want to focus on the flaws only.

      So, the founders had slaves. That's unfortunate. It is a good thing over time that changed. I like the fact that you mentioned that White people decided to change it and it changed.

      My question to you is, Why is there so much argument about Hispanic distinction from Europe when Hispanics are European culturally and genetically? They speak Spanish, a European language. Their cultures are based on European religions and customs. They look European. They obviously do not practice cultural laws indigenous to the Americas. Hispanic is European culture just like African American culture is European, but with a twist. African Americans' ancestors were pilfered from their lands.

      Is there resentment that the creation of Hispanic culture is due to the massacre of native people, raping them and mixing European DNA to make the Hispanics? If that is the case, of which I am not aware, then I can understand some of the need for Hispanic Studies.

      What I do not agree with or understand is the Mexican nationalism in America. I do not understand why our neighbor to the south has millions of people calling themselves Mexican when they are American citizens. That is like me calling myself Nigerian because my ancestors come from that country. I know people do it, but I would not consider it my racial identity.

      I am an American of Nigerian heritage. Culturally I am Black or African American. I do not agree with the term African in describing me, but I accept it culturally. I have a mixed heritage, which makes me uniquely American. Because most of my ancestors were slaves, America is the only culture with which I can identify.

      I understand Hispanic American as a designation or even Mexican-American. I do not understand why people who are American call themselves Mexican, but refuse to live there. It seems political and not cultural.

    • Credence2 profile image


      4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      A very through and well written article. Assimilation does not mean being forced to accommodate the teaching of lies and misconstruction in the classroom and fear of open and critical debate of what is happening around you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Ronnie, I found this very interesting and voted that way.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Great Hub, wrenchBiscuit. This new Arizona law does promote censorship as well as anti-Hispanic feelings. It is pandering to the worst in Arizona society. Openness and total light on all subjects are the past policies.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi BiscuitThatTastesGoodAndIsHealthyAndWise

      I love the yell for freedom …’s the most treasured thing about America that the rest of the world understands. Freedom has a boundless energy that defines human nature…loved the hubs energy and huge research effort.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      It is the disadvantage of state "thinking" versus federal. States think small, at a micro level, federal engages the globality of its citizens at a macro level.


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