This isn’t the textbook Texas activists had in mind when they were calling for more literature on Mexican-American history. On Tuesday, the Texas Education Agency released samples of their first libro, which was listed under “Special Topics in Social Studies,” on the topic, and few mexicanos, if any, are still celebrating the win.
“Mexican American Heritage” is a 500-page text predominately written by white writers that dedicates more chapters to the separate histories of Mexico and the United States than it does actual Mexican Americans, leaving issues like civil and labor rights to a few final chapters. It also inaccurately insinuates that salsa, tango and rumba are Mexican musical genres and highlights the work of non-Mexican writers like Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chilean Isabel Allende and Brazilian Pablo Coelho.
Even more, the book, not unlike U.S. history textbooks in general, perpetuates the myth that Mexican Americans are reconquistadors wreaking havoc in the U.S. in an effort to reclaim their land.
“Chicanos, on the other hand, adopted a revolutionary narrative that opposed Western civilization and wanted to destroy this society,” reads one passage.
Fortunately for Texas’ Latino students, who make up the majority in the state, teachers aren’t required to use the textbook to teach Chicano history, and many aren’t. Educators of Mexican-American studies electives are developing their own courses and trading the problematic Texas Education Agency-backed libro for titles like F. Arturo Rosales’ “Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.”
Shout-out to instructors forgoing “Mexican American Heritage” and teaching their students about the real history of mexicanos in this country