Anthony Tamburri, a dear friend, remarkable scholar, and the head of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute holds forth on the dangers of what passes for "progress" in the state of Arizona; his heady words are a necessary reminder of growing dangers in these days of change:
While one might “rationalize” (NOT condone) certain consequences of the Smith Act of 1940, which, in 1941, ultimately designated citizens of Germany, Italy, and Japan “enemy aliens” in this country (my grandmother being one of them), the more recent bill passed and signed into law yesterday in Arizona is ever so complexing, especially in this global world, in 2010. Indeed, given that this comes on the heels of another Arizona bill of three weeks ago, one might sarcastically muse, what’s in the water out there…
As stated in the LA Times, the bill basically “bans schools from teaching classes designed for students of a particular ethnic group.” Arizona’s State Supt. of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, sees the bill as targeting Chicano and/or Mexican-American studies programs in the Tucson school district.
Why should we care, beyond, of course, the general issues of human decency? Many of us in Italian-American studies, at various levels and to varied degrees, have and continue to campaign for Italian and Italian-American courses to be part of the curricula in the public school districts in which we live, as well as at the college/university level. Such a bill, as the one Arizona Gov. Brewer has signed, would disallow such campaigns. Such a bill, in retrospect, would have disallowed the momentous Italian-American curriculum that was spearheaded in the 1980s by then First Lady Matilda Cuomo (Italian Americans-Looking Back-Moving Forward, published by the New York State Education Department in 1992), as well as the equally impressive New Jersey Italian and Italian American Heritage Commission’s curriculum (K-12) that is currently being used in numerous school districts across the Hudson.
We will have more to say about this in the coming days. Stay tuned to this list-serve, Italics2.0, i-Italy.org , and here on YouTube.
Anthony Julian Tamburri, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean
Huge Abrazos to Anthony and his colleagues for the love, for the solidarity!
Here's Tamburri in a recent videocast: