Precious Knowledge: On the Front Lines of the Ethnic Studies War

Since the cameras stopped rolling on the documentary Precious Knowledge (premiering May 17 on Independent Lens), the Tucson Unified School District has been all over the news. Precious Knowledge follows the student backlash from a school board decision to dismantle the Mexican American Studies program.

Catch up on the whole story with our handy guide to the ethnic studies kerfuffle in Tucson:

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  • Renowned

    What a disgrace this program is to the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Mexican immigrants that have WORKED HARD to become educated, learn, progress, and WORK for a living. This program was nothing more than Socialist propaganda attempting to further sway those who do not have the ability to think for themselves. Everything is wonderful if someone else is picking up the tab isn’t it? Why have so many Mexicans immigrated LEGALLY to the US and have been exceptionally successful? BECAUSE THEY WORK AND HAVE PRIDE! They dont expect and feel entitled to something they have NOT EARNED. Mexicans will (and currently are) the majority in the Southwest. What are going to blame your laziness on next? You ARE NOT A MINORITY! You are SOCIALIST/COMMUNISTS. Please educate yourself in history and see how far that metality and philosophy is going to take you. GO TO WORK! EARN YOUR OWN KEEP! EDUCATE YOURSELVES! We have all been discriminated against. GET OVER IT! WORK and QUIT BITCHING about America. Please go back to MEXICO if you can’t function here. I’m sure they will gladly accept you in their classrooms and give you tax dollars to bitch about Mexico! Please GO AWAY if you don’t like America.

    • Ghjvty

      I pity you.

      • Renowned

        Good. Give all your money to these idiots and join them in their quest to be entitled to everything in life that they are not willing to work for. Please. Go with them to Mexico and help educate the people there about life in America. Use their tax dollars to bash Mexico!! See how long you will be able to do that. Please! GO AWAY!

        • Ghjvty

          If you want to be left alone, then why do you continue to post? Go to bed and reexamine your vitriol with fresh eyes in the morning. You are a sad person…

        • Arturo Hernandez

          How come you do not write your name on your post? Are you a coward? I think you are. In addition to that, I can tell that you speak from your heart but I heart full of hate and ignorance. You need to learn about your own ‘american’ history which is nathing else but full of missleadings, lies, bretoyals, and everything that built this america which it was by stealing this land from the native americans and ensalving people and trying to break their spirit. Learn at leat a little bit before you say something.

    • Arturo Hernandez

      How come you do not write your name on your post? Are you a coward? I think you are. In addition to that, I can tell that you speak from your heart but I heart full of hate and ignorance. You need to learn about your own ‘american’ history which is nathing else but full of missleadings, lies, bretoyals, and everything that built this america which it was by stealing this land from the native americans and ensalving people and trying to break their spirit. Learn at leat a little bit before you say something.

    • remerica

      Socialist/Communists: The bogeyman of the 20th century… and now the 21st apparently.

      Most people spew these labels without actually understanding their meaning, the people behind them, or their intentions.

      Far too often I’ve heard good ideas discounted as too “socialist” for America. Then I hear people say that you can’t separate the “God” from America. Yet, those same people won’t accept the golden rule, or one of the bible’s key teachings of “Love thy neighbor”. How about “Do unto others”?

      Hypocrisy is rampant.

      You say “educate yourself”, but you seem to have failed in this regard yourself.

      Arturo is right. History is full of lies whitewashed to create our “founding father heroes”. If people knew the truth, they’d have a much different opinion on American history. They’d be much more educated than they are today.

      • Renowned

        So “REmerica”, why don’t you enlighten us with the benefits and virtues of communism and socialism since you defend it so rigorously. Perhaps you could use a few quotes of Stalin, Lenin, or maybe mao tse tung. They are stellar examples of your values. If you knew history as you claim (which you do not) you recognize Stalin murdered more people than Hitler yet you side with their ideals and values. Please tell me what I’m missing here. Also, please let me know which communist nation you would like to cite as being so successful and great at human rights. Cuba? Former USSR? China? Perhaps Venezuela. You name it. Unfortunately you have simply exposed just how ignorant you are. Why do you say everyone else is a hypocryte when you yourself hate America, hate others who have succeeded in life and hate yourself. And yes, I do know not all of American history is full of “founding father heros”. But what do you suggest we do about it? GET OVER IT. Move on.

        Why is it so important for you to know my name? So you can then call me a racist for not having the same opinion as you? That seems to be the standard reply these days from minorities. So if I don’t agree with you and I’m white, I MUST be a racist. Who is the hater here? Whoi is the racist? You seem to be full of it. Why do you need to start calling others names? Why do you hate America so? Who can’t let go of the past and work toward a brighter future? I’m guessing you have no job, or you work for the government. I’m guessing you feel entitled to health care, food, housing and all essentials that others work for. You are demonstrating you typical liberal complaining with no solutions other than asking for someone to give you more. And, by the way, I know plenty about my country’s history. Many sides of it in fact. If you think it is all “missleadings, lies, bretoyals (sic), and everything built in this america which was stealing theis land from the native americans and ensalving (sic) people and tryng to break their spirit.” you are a very, very sad person, and more ignorant than you will ever know.

        • Gilbertiglesias2012

          Who is talking about socialism and communism? Only you level people that way. Who hates who and what? I do not hate america. This is my land. I am a native american and I love all people from all different soicoeconomic backgrounds. What I was stating is that it is important to know our own history to know who we are and be proud of who we are. Como’n and if you want to talk about who murded more people. Just let me tell you that europeans murded millions of native americans directly and indirectly and still to this day by sending them to reservations and deprived them of their most basic rights. Are you proud of that? What does the bible say? Do not kill,, and was not exactly that what was done by the new comers to this land? Do not steal? And was not exactly that that was done by many of the piglrims? Do not wish to have your neighbor’s wife and did not , many of the new immigrants, rape as many native americans, and black slaves they could? Now who is the hypocryte?
          Now, who is talking about trying to call you racist? You are the only one thinking of that. That says alot about you.
          Who hates america? I don’t. whatever happned, it happened. However, it is time to stop writing in the history books very negative things about the native peoples. It is time to stop writing down in the books that you came to save us. It is time to stop writing in the history books that you found a “new world” (this is as old as the one on the other side of the atlantic). It is time to stop writing down in the history books that you gave us a favor. We did not need your help.
          It is time for you to stop assuming and get to the facts.
          Look, do your homework before you start leveling people. What I was saying is that history has to be rewrite because that could set us all free.

          Arturo Hernandez

          • Renowned

            We are in agreement that history is often written and passed on with a bias. I have no doubt about that. I also acknowledge many treaties, agreements, etc. were not honored that should have been in those days. I also know it is well documented that native americans did their fair share of murdering, raping, and stealing. In my view, neither side has much to be proud of during those days. The natives were probably doing what they felt right in self-defense. The immigrants were probably too, in pure survival mode. So, who is right? Many people defend the illegal immigrants that we have now. Are they OK to come into our country? But the first “settlers” were not?
            I have not read the history books you reference that portray native americans negatively. In fact, most of the books I have read, and currently reading are pretty positive. I admire their ability to survive off the land, work ethic, and spirituality in those days. I’m not “leveling” people (whatever that means) but simply standing up for what I feel is right going forward which does not include murder, rape, theft, or labeling people because of their economic class or ethenticity. All I’m saying is if you don’t like what you have, go work for what you want. It’s not going to be handed to you because your great-great-great grandparents were vilified somehow. We all have those stories, regardless of ethenticity or location. I think history is being re-written as we write these posts. However, I don’t understand how it is going to set us all free as you state. In my mind we just need to move on and get along rather than pointing out and picking at scabs and wounds from the past. Make tomorrow better.

          • Gilbertiglesias2012

            We agree that natives killed, rape, and ….steal… I doubt that they steal what was theirs. You said that “the natives were problably doing what they felt right in self-defense.”. lets contemplate the following: what would you do if a foreigner brakes into your house; rape your family members; steal your land; house; goods and view you as a salvage and ignorant and try to take away all your rights? That is a rethoric question…..
            Now you said “that the immigrants were problably doing what felt right too”???????? “In pursue of survival mode”?????? Is that what you would do to survive? Rape, steal, murder and take away some one elses rights away even after they welcome you into their house????
            Now, there is a big contrast between the pilgrims and today’s new immigrants. Today’s immigrants come to this country to work. And yes they break the laws by coming here illegally. However, they do not (the vast majority) do not come here to steal our land, rape our women, murdered our people. They come here to work, to find a better way to provide for their families that they left behind.
            Yes, they brake the laws by coming here ellagally but they do it so following a righ (a human right ) the right of survival. And no moral and judicial law should try to stop people from traying to scape from tyrant goverments, from immense poverty and from starvation. THIS IS WHAT IS CALL SURVIVAL. What would you do if you and your familly were living in similar circumstances? Would you have the courage to cross a desert, put yourself in a dangerous situation ,, knowing that you could died in the process? Once you here, would you steal, rape, murder ? or would you work hard for what you want?
            Now if you have not read books that portray native american negatively, then.. I do not know what kind of books you have been reading. I would like to know so I can read them. Then you go on saying that “if you don’t like what you have, go work for what you want. It’s not going to be hunded to you because your great-great granparents were vilified somehow”. We agree that we have to work for what we want. However, you do not have to steal someone elses land, take some one elses rights aways, murdered people, and rape the women. That is not how is done. You are right…. WE HAVE TO WORK FOR WHAT WE WANT.
            Now you said “In my mind we just need to move on and get along rather than pointing out and picking at scabs and wounds from the past. Make tomorrow better.” We agree that we have to move on. That is exactly what I have been saying. We need to move on. However, it is time to call things by their name and not trying to cover them up by justifying the atrocities that were commited against native americans and on top of that trying to say that it was god’s will to come and invaded these lands.
            A better tomorrow will come when we all people learn about our history to be able to move on. Knowledge means freedom.

          • Renowned

            I tried to extend an olive branch and show that I see both sides. I can see from your response that you are indeed not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you read what you just wrote, you made my point over and over. You just don’t seem to have the mental capacity to understand. Why are illegal immigrants who you DEFEND different than Pilgrims who you DESPISE? Were not the Pilgrims fleeing an oppressive government? Or is that another part of history you would like to re-write? And as far as the raping, stealing, and murdering, statistics show that the African Americans are making up for where the caucaisions left off. Oh, and don’t forget to mention all the crimes commited by illegals once they are here – rape, murder, theft, fraud…..not all of them are here to work as you suggest. Again, statistics and facts show that. As I wrote in my first post, this program was a disgrace to every law abiding Mexican American that has WORKED HARD for what they have. They are great people who simply want to have a good life and do it LEGALLY!
            Whether you know it or not, you hate America, you hate white people, and you hate yourself because you can’t function in today’s world. I will waste no more time with you – you have no point, no logic, and no sense.

          • Gilberiglesias2012

            New immigrants do not come here to steal, rape, murdered, take away our rights and on top of that they do not try to justify atrocities. That is what’s different from the pilgrims who came to the Americas. Of course the pilgrims were fleeing an oppressive government and persecution. However, once they got here they oppressed, persecuted, murdered, and enslaved and raped people. That’s what different from today’s immigrants. The vast majority come here to work and do not try to oppressed, persecute, murder, and enslave and rape people. Yes, there are bad apples but those bad apples exist in any society and come in every form and shape. So I don’t see your point. You just can’t defend yourself and now you are giving up and all your rebuttals are nothing but assumptions. And you try to justify all your assumptions but telling me that I hate white people, that I hate America because I cannot function in today’s world. You need to stop listening to rush Limbaugh and people alike. They have twisted your perception of reality. Learn more and learn to think for yourself. Leave African American alone. They have been oppressed and persecuted till this day. However, I have a dream that in the near future black, brown and white and yellow children will learn their history and will be able to understand the other.
            Are you afraid of saying what you really think about other people who are not white? Is that what it is? Do you have the courage to write down, HERE, what is really behind all your comments?
            ARE YOU A COWARD that hides behind assumptions and olive branches?

  • Karowilly

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  • Kalamcclure93

    Living in Mississippi I always wondered why everyone hated Mexicans.after moving to Houston TX I now know why. I’m so glad these classes have been canceled. These people are complete idiots. These classes only support in school segregation
    and promote racism. Quite frankly after attending college here I think the Mexican students are very confused. Ceaser Chavez? WHAT! THESE STUDENTS. grow up with a chip on their shoulder.most kids wouldn’t have even known they were oppressed before we tothe ld them. The girls are whoare dirty and promiscuous and the males are thugs. But they all know its because the bad white man is racist. News flash if you spent more time in a classroom teaching you how to speack English not slurred Spanglish you could actually get a job. Its not because the white man is racist its because you’re an idiot!!! They pick on the educated and its all because of racsism. If you have no respect for our founding fathers go back to your culture country. Proud to be an American an

  • whites are racist!

    If these girls on the documentary worried more about their bra straps showing and less of the large prostitute hoop hearings more people would have more respect for them and what their class represents.oops I’m white so I MUST have said that because I don’t understand their culture.

    • Lawrence in Phoenix

      Living in Arizona, not Mississippi, I can tell you that there are many, many people who are indigenous to this state (and this region) but of Mexican descent. Want proof? I’m one of them. My family is American today only because the US won the right to the land my family lived on here in the southwest. Am I thankful to be an American? Every day. Will I ever forget my Mexican heritage? Not on your life.

      That would be like me asking you to forget your ancestry and the cultures and traditions your forefathers died embracing. As a thoughtful, educated, and respectful person, I’d never ask you to do that. We just ask the same respect. Or at least enough respect not to call our entire culture into judgment.

    • Ambergale9

      Wait. You missed a documentary on ethnicity because your focus was their bra straps? Trust me, ignorance is not bliss. Would Paris Hilton or Nicole Ritchie or Britney Spear’s bra straps bother you as they degrade the morals and home values of young girls everywhere with their unrealistic lifestyles on public display? As a former case worker in public assistance, I have learned that in order to reach those from different social-economic backgrounds, I must look past the superficial and not speak condescendingly. Once you’ve done that, you can easily TEACH someone how to present themselves and how to speak. Perhaps you haven’t realized, but there are less resources and opportunities for those that grow up in a poor, high-crime, gang, and/or drug related area versus those that are socially and financially better groomed and provided for by their families. It’s clear that you don’t understand many things – our American history is definitely one of them. Good luck with that!

    • Sonia1morena

      No you said that because you are ignorant and small!!! The fact that all you focused on is jewelry and intimate attire when there were major issues being discussed clearly shows that your small brain can only process images not the content which is above your understanding.. You must be a proud graduate of their school system!!!

    • lorie

      no, you’re just a stereotypical fag

  • Howdy

    I just watched the program and I read some of the comments. My reaction to all of it is, there is such fear and a lack of true communication between people. We get hijacked by our emotions of anger and outrage, we stop there. We stop at fear and refuse to actually listen to others. How different this situation might have been if the powers that be, stopped and started conversations with the school, rather than go to TV stations and Bans. Each side talking and listening so that their concerns are fully heard, until each side comes to an agreement. It could have brought about such unity between both sides. It could have been a different conversation.

    All of us have the same needs and desires. We all want jobs, a secure place for our families to grow up and to be accepted and respected. If we want a country that reflects that for all of us, it needs to start with conversations with whomever we see as ‘other’. When that happens we will see how truly alike we really are. It happens time and time again.

    Or if we don’t we can continue going to war with our neighbors.

    Best wishes to you all.

  • Ambergale9

    Fear of anything other than what you see in the mirror shows a greater depth of ignorance in Tuscson Unified School District. Raza studies are pivotal in America, just as any study of a person’s culture. The negative attitudes of our society towards anyone and anything that isn’t reflective of what’s in the majority, has ingrained an overwhelming sense of hopelessness in many demographics and begins a cycle of self-degradation on ethnic groups here in America. Based on statements from students, the benefits that this and many other programs offer, such as developing a sense of self-worth, which in turn encourages self-respect and integrity in a society that needs direction toward becoming a positive contributing member of our society, is a major factor in future successes. The intention to derail the education of one’s culture is clearly seen in the statements made by Jan Brewer and the like. It’s unfortunate that many lawmakers cannot relate to this negative viewpoint because they do not make up any of the colored ethnic groups. So how could you possibly understand? The idea is to control the unknown and send a clear message – we don’t want you here [in America]. No one wants to speak honestly on that simple fact. If these programs can decrease the need for their reliance on public assistance (a tax drain) and social healthcare in the future, as it relates to increasing the graduation rate, and furthermore gives them the courage to venture into higher education, why wouldn’t you, as a mindful, conscientious, educated lawmaker, encourage it?? Anything that improves our lives in America and increases our sense of American pride and unification (as we desperately need it now) should not cause any confusion with a lawmaker that cannot relate to experiencing racism firsthand within in the last 50 years in our country.

  • princes ss

    A key message for me was that open, participatory and social media can provide mechanisms for us to share and discuss teaching and research ideas in new year projects for cse chennai