Me, I can’t help but take the banning of books on a rather personal level. You see, when they talk about banning lessons that include topics like Cesar Chavez or Dolores Huerta, or ban Zinn’s “history of America”, or Shakespeare’s The Tempest”, they are talking about ideas and words that have been a part of making me who I am. In some ways because they are so meaningful to me, I view them as almost an extension of who I am. They are nipping at the corners of my identity.
I’ve written a book on the history of Latinos in Pasadena. I did so because after living here for a while I learned that there was a rich history of this particular community that had not been shared broadly. After years and years of interview and conversations over many cups of coffee with many elders who had lived all their lives in Pasadena their stories and lives were bound in a book. Were this same book used as a textbook in TUSD it would be banned. All the stories, all the people, all the live of those who are in the book would be, in a sense, disappeared.
Our son has some Welsh heritage, so as a family we’ve kept an eye out for things Welsh as much as things Polish, Mexican, and Scottish. So Sunday morning my eye was drawn to an article on actor Matthew Rhys. I was surprised to learn that he was from Wales, he “did” a great So Cal accent on the TV show “Brothers and Sisters”. I was also struck by his comment regarding National Eisteddfodd arts festival.
“Mr. Rhys, who has a quick wit and an engaging affability, said he began performing at an early age. ‘It was just part of a normal Welsh childhood, he said, recalling weekly Bibile recitations in church and competing twice yearly at the National Eisteddfod arts festival. ‘Its focus (is) on encouraging youth, because the Welsh language is a threatened lnaguage, to parcitpate’.”
I read his quote and couldn’t help but think about banned books and threatened histories.