“Precious Knowledge” is Worth Fighting For

February 22, 2012 /

This Mexican American history mural lines Cushing Street in Barrio Viejo, not too far from Tucson High School where ethnic studies courses have been outlawed. PHOTO: Daina Dajevskis/FLICKR

By Alejandra Alarcon
Coachella Unincorporated

Raices Cultura recently screened “Precious Knowledge,” a documentary about students at Tuscon High School, in Arizona, fighting for their right to an education about their own culture.

This documentary made me very emotional. Throughout the film, I had a knot in my throat from empathy. I could easily put myself in the Tucson students’ shoes, not only because I am a high school student or a Chicana — but because I am human. I have learned that knowing about your raices, your roots, makes you find your individuality in this colossal world filled with people with their own roots. Ancestry is extremely important to me because in my culture, family comes first. I also know the hardships people face daily trying to acquire a document.

Ethnic studies are being banned from Tucson Unified School District because John Huppenthal, the state superintendent of public instruction, believes it is too radical and racist to segregate studies by race. I kept asking myself: what do they want high school students to learn? These educators just want the students to learn about the white faces in history. How will we learn in this world when we do not even know where we truly come from?

I really connected with Crystal, one of the students featured in the documentary. Crystal was fighting for her right to learn about ethnic studies and the rights of future generations to do the same, like her little sisters. My younger sister kept crossing my mind as I watched the film. I do not want my sister to be limited in her knowledge. Freedom of speech is being taken away from students at Tuscon High School. Students are not being allowed to practice what they want to learn.

This injustice is taking place in one school district, but people need to become aware of what is happening in Arizona. People need to come together to fight this battle because we cannot let it spread to more school districts, or more states. We need to come together as one, and fight for our universal right to learn.

To learn more about this documentary, visit www.preciousknowledgefilm.com.

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