Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Precious Knowledge: Movie to move America

The film Precious Knowledge airs on PBS's Independent Lens on May 17. I've seen the movie, and it is a knock-out. Don't miss this show on Thursday at 10 pm (check local listings). Set your DVR if you can't watch it live. Here's why:

The film documents the contentious battle in Tuscon, Arizona over their public high school's highly successful Mexican American Studies Program. Students and teachers fought to rescue this innovative curriculum from state officials who legislated the deletion of ethnic studies programs and the local school board who colluded with the decision.

Filmmakers Ari Luis Palos and Eren Isabel McGinniss spent a complete year in the classroom, documenting the transformation of Latino students who became engaged learners, active citizens and self-actualized persons as they participated in classes they found to be relevant.

Photo credits: PBS
Yes, Precious Knowledge explains the program's success: statistics about improved drop-out rates and boosted numbers of students who subsequently choose to pursue a college education. But the beauty of the film is in the stories of individual students who welcome us into their homes and lives to show us the personal impact of the program. This is where film excels!

Equally important, the film shows us the bigoted political process that led to the ultimate demise of the MAS (Mexican American Studies) program. You may draw your own conclusions from the testimony of the decision-makers who pulled the plug...and openly told the film-makers why they did.

I was fortunate to preview the film this spring at a private showing in El Paso, Tuscon's border neighbor. I choose the word "fortunate" pointedly because the emotional impact of the movie literally disturbed my sleep for days afterward. Always one to immerse myself in a film, in the wake of the Precious Knowledge I felt angry and beaten down by ignorance and blind power. I felt defeated, and it hurt.

To cope with my emotional aftermath, I recalled the screening room on that sunny April afternoon. An empty chair separated me from a woman in my row who didn't know me. As giant figures of white men spewing ignorant, prejudiced statements towered over us on the screen above, I saw her literally bend forward from the waist, lean into her lap and cradle her face in her hands. I felt her pain. I shared it in that moment. It somehow comforted me to know that I was not alone. She understood.

The memory of her reaction still comforts me. It was a full-bodied lament...a grieving.

Those who are on the side of Arizona lawmakers will not likely benefit from this movie because no movie will ever change their racist mindsets. But there are many in the United States who will be moved by this production. They have not yet heard about this recent attack in the ongoing war against humanity that we name "racism."

Precious Knowledge is a movie powerful enough to move many in America. Don't miss the opportunity to be moved.

Here's the movie trailer:

After viewing Precious Knowledge, you may wish to sign this petition for TUSD to reinstate the MAS program and or join the Precious Knowledge Facebook page.


fan of Gaia said...

I recently attended a conference about the pre-confederation treaties signed by First Nations. Speakers from across N.America and New Zealand spoke about rights. Our First Nation people are finding their voice. They want recognition, respect and justice. Still,many here are like that school board promoting willful ignorance. Shame, shame on their heads.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks for sharing a very appropriate first-hand experience from Canada, foGaia! Good for you for keeping up on this issue and sharing about it here. You hearten me, and social media connections like ours restore my broken heart and allow me to continue in the struggle for equality.

Vicente Duque said...

Thanks Billie, nothing is more important than Children and Adolescents and their good education with Love and Care


U. S. Supreme Court Holder v Gutierrez - Decided on May 21

Justice Kagan announcing the opinion of the Court on a question of whether the kids of immigrants get the benefit of the doubt. Her reading is pregnant with the expectation that she’ll come around for the kids. But she doesn’t.

It seems like President Obama and Secretary of Justice Eric Holder won and the "Baby Dreamers" are not going to suffer ( I hope ! ).

I confess being somewhat foolish and having a lot of trouble understanding this case. At first I was somewhat sad, confused and worried about the "Dream Babies" and their possible deportation out of the USA and into the Limbo.

Independent of Partisan Bias and of our Loves and Hates :

This decision was unanimous and rational. Because they want to preserve the discretionary powers of the executive.

The Justices are not saying : "Be tough on Immigrants".

They are saying : "Respect what the Federal Government decides" and "The Supreme Court should not legislate on Immigration".

I wish these guidelines for SB 1070, but perhaps Conservatism will trump Reason.


Above the Law
Supreme Court
Everyone Is Being Reasonable
By Matt Kaiser
May 21, 2012

Some excerpts :

Justice Kagan reads the first opinion in Holder v. Gutierrez and Holder v. Sawyers.

If it wants, the Board of Immigration Appeals can probably cut kids of immigrants a break by imputing their parents’ favorable immigration status to them under certain circumstances. The BIA doesn’t do that. The kids would like the BIA to cut them a break.

Justice Kagan takes her time laying out the background of the law, the case, and what’s happened before. She’s still teaching law as she does it – for such a technical area she explains it remarkably clearly.

And it’s hard not to think that it’s Justice Kagan announcing the opinion of the Court on a question of whether the kids of immigrants get the benefit of the doubt. Her reading is pregnant with the expectation that she’ll come around for the kids.

But she doesn’t.


Vicente Duque said...

Racist Anti-ethnic studies initiative in Arizona : Anti-intellectualism is taking over AZ - Thousands of academic book bannings, firings of teachers, growing disregard for scholarship - Medieval Witch Hunt in AZ - Racism and Brutality in Arizona. Possible contagion to other States - Topmost in Intellectual Backwardness

British "Guardian" Newspaper
Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US
The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US's growing disregard for scholarship itself
By Patricia Williams
May 18, 2012

Some excerpts :

Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that "promote the overthrow of the United States government," "promote resentment toward a race or class of people," "are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group," and/or "advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals." I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare's The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. "I chose not to go to any of their classes," he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. "Why even go?" In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as "Rosa Clark."


Happily, there is pushback occurring against such anti-intellectualism. One of the most vibrant examples is a protest group called Librotraficante, or Book Trafficker. Organised by Tony Diaz, a Houston Community College professor, the group has been caravanning throughout the south-west holding readings, setting up book clubs, establishing "underground libraries," and dispensing donated copies of the books that have been removed from Arizona's public school curriculum. You can donate by visiting


Vicente Duque said...

Video : "If you are watching this video is because I am arrested" -- Little Girl Daniela Cruz defied the "toughest Sheriff in America" Jow Arpaio and got away with it after being arrested by this bad guy - Stephen Lemons : SB1070 Civil Disobedience Must Escalate

A little Girl in desperation and tired of being harassed and "Racially Profiled" becomes very brave and filled with courage against the Toughest and Roughest Sheriff.

See the Video of Daniela Cruz at the bottom of this page --- "If you are watching this video is because I am arrested" .... The text was written by Stephen Lemons :


One of the more daring examples of DREAM Act civil disobedience occurred in March, when 150 student protesters blocked a street in West Phoenix. Six undocumented students chose not to move from the center of the street and were arrested, thus risking deportation.

In a YouTube clip released to coincide with her arrest with the others, Daniela Cruz explained how she and fellow DREAMers were fed up with living in a limbo where they legally cannot work or go to college at an in-state tuition rate. America is the only home they’ve ever known, and they demonstrated that they are through being victims.

“I’m willing to risk everything I have,” Cruz told her audience. “I’m willing to risk being deported because I’m done seeing people be scared.”

To the surprise of both her and her jailers, ICE holds on Cruz and her cohorts mysteriously were lifted during their 28-hour stay in Joe Arpaio’s Fourth Avenue Jail. They were released on misdemeanor charges.

Cruz and her pals quickly became heroes in the Latino community.

“One day, we’ll be reading about them in history books!” declares Arizona State Senator Steve Gallardo, who is pushing for repeal of 1070.

Gallardo predicts increased public protests in the wake of the expected Supreme Court ruling. “I’ll be right there with them,” he says.

A demonstration scheduled for June 23 by the Phoenix human rights group Puente will target Arpaio’s infamous Tent City. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists who will convene in Phoenix during that weekend for a national conference will participate in the protest.

The Unitarians and Puente teamed up in 2010 for a massive show of anti-1070 civil disobedience that rocked Phoenix.

Puente organizer Carlos Garcia cites the example set by the DREAM Act kids as one to emulate.

“When undocumented people confront the system, it crumbles,” he says. “And it becomes clear that they are more afraid of us than we are of them.”

Arrested in Phoenix | Undocumented: Daniela Cruz

Published on Mar 20, 2012 by DreamActivistdotOrg