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A future we wish to see: racialized communities studies after white racial anxiety and resentment.


ON MAY 11, 2010, only twenty days after signing a controversial immigration bill that triggered widespread protests, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2281 into law. (1) Amending Title 15 in the Arizona Revised Statutes and effective on the last day of 2010, the provisions of HB 2281 authorize the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withhold 10 percent of monthly state aid to schools that offer courses designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that promote resentment, ethnic solidarity, or overthrow of the US government. "[P]ublic school pupils should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people," one provision of the law reads.

Under the supervision of a thirty-one year federal-court desegregation settlement agreement until 2009, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is the unmistakable target of HB 2281. (2) According to recently elected Attorney General for the State of Arizona, Tom Horne, the former Superintendent of Public Instruction and one of the bill's principal architects, HB 2281 expressly is aimed at TUSD's Mexican American Studies. (3) In an interview with a staff writer for the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, during which he announced his campaign for Arizona Attorney General, Home singled it out as promoting "a very separatist attitude." (4) As evidenced in interviews with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, NPR's Allison Keyes, and the ABC Tucson affiliate's April Madison, Horne determined that TUSD was in violation of the new law before it even went into effect. On Fox News Channel's Hannity, Horne stated flatly that when the law takes effect "we will state that they're in violation ... [and] withhold 10 percent of their funds." (5)

MEXICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, the most fully-developed of these academic programs in Tucson schools, was institutionalized in 1997 after decades of community pressure that included student-organized activism, community-supported litigation, and parent-led efforts to focus broad public attention on gross educational inequities between students of color and the children of white parents. The controversial 2009 federal court order lifting its supervision of TUSD desegregation efforts approved the school district's plan that included an emphasis on expanding its ethnic studies departments. Thus, at a time when politicians and the media gin up fears of terrifying threats "out there," they also fix their crosshairs on gains made through grassroots struggle, "here," on the inside of the nation. And they employ the ideological authority of law and the coercive power of state apparatuses to turn back the clock on the gains of educational equity achieved through grassroots struggle.

Linda Chavez, the ex-liberal-turned-conservative who directs the progressive sounding Center for Equal Opportunity, told NPR's Neal Conan in an interview concerned with the Arizona law, that:

"[T]he goal of public schools ought to be in terms of bringing people into the mainstream and providing them the tools that they're going to need to be able to succeed in the United States [rather than] to create a kind of aggrieved class of youngsters who are going to feel oppressed or going to feel themselves victims in this society." (6)

Thus, the imperative to socialize children as unquestioning neoliberal consumer-citizens justifies HB 2281 as a countermeasure to ward off the perceived threat of "ethnic solidarity." Chavez's comments on NPR signal common talking points used by a wide range of interests to attack group solidarity and grassroots struggle as alternatives to the common sense notion of individual consumers taking responsibility for their own needs. Facts do not seem to matter. (7) As Torin Monahan and Rodolfo Torres have suggested, racialized minorities who are socialized in the education apparatus "are disproportionately subjected to contemporary surveillance and policing apparatuses" while education "further aligns itself with the criminal justice system, the military, and private industry." (8) It follows, of course, that Racialized Communities Studies would draw comparable attention and similar ire. Understood in its political context and climate as part of a larger offensive--as a war of position among functionaries inside state apparatuses to shape the future of Racialized Communities Studies and the communities they represent--HB 2281 vindicates unforgiving, state-sponsored bullying. It provides a key legal tool--an iron fist of discipline and control--to intimidate intellectual projects which seek to theorize, critique, and ultimately change the oppressive dynamics of racial formations in the US. In a moment of white anxiety and resentment, perhaps most dramatically driven by the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and finding corporate and populist expression in the Tea Party movement that has emerged since, these interests unmistakably stoke white supremacist compulsions to "take back America."

Understanding Indian Education

DEEPLY TROUBLED by implications of the contemporary Tea Party-driven narrative of an America slipping away, in this article, we align ourselves with broader efforts to institutionalize educational alternatives that run counter to the common understanding of colorblind, neoliberal citizen-consumer agents of history. For several reasons, we ground our discussion in the contemporary intellectual project of American Indian Studies, which emerged in the US from the First Convocation of American Indian Scholars at Princeton University in 1970. Empirical research has identified climate and epistemic ignorance (as opposed to cultural conflict, which tends to pathologize indigenous cultures), as key obstacles to the educational ambitions of Indian students, indicating that the problem of high attrition in colleges and universities is linked to systemic racism grounded in white racial hegemony and social institutions serving white interests. (9) Representing both these students and those many Indian children tossed aside in the prevailing system of public education, American Indian Studies not only focuses attention on the problem but articulates alternatives to the status quo as well. From a collaboration that began in our relationship as researchers and teachers, our objective here is to sketch what we see as three key implications of HB 2281 emergent from the contexts of federal policy for Indian education since the Kennedy Report in 1969 and American Indian Studies after 1970. (10) We argue that an education apparatus governed by federal mandates for Indian education and the logics underpinning HB 2281 both are, on the whole, fixed in white supremacy, paternalism, and originalism--the idea that the original meaning of the framers for American democracy is knowable and fixed in an individual citizen-consumer, rather than understanding citizenship as a site of generative struggle where various group interests converge and diverge.

Indian Education in a Context of Self-Determination and Collaboration: By Indians or For Indians?

AS UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA Indian education anthropologist and historian and Creek scholar K. Tsianina Lomawaima writes, the designation "'Indian education' has referred to the education of Indian people by Indian people [and] for Indian people by colonizing nations." (11) For five centuries the dialectic of "Indian education," Lomawaima suggests, has swung between "perpetuating family values, language, religion, politics, economics, skills, sciences, and technologies" and "eradicating Native knowledge and values." (12) Thus, while in 2010 Indian parents and federally-recognized Indian and tribal entities by law have some measure of legal authority to determine educational matters for their children, even in the prevailing era of indigenous peoples-state relations in the US deemed self-determination and collaboration, tribes remain subjected ultimately as "domestic dependent" governments to the plenary power of Congress and federal mandates. (13)

Tucson Unified School District's Native American Studies Department, devoted to student affairs, has administered congressional appropriations for Indian education since 1976. Among the key chronological signposts in the dialectics of Indian education policy in the postwar twentieth century is an investigation authorized by the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Popularly referred to as the Kennedy Report, after the chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Indian Education, Massachusetts Democrat, Edward M. Kennedy, the resulting report links federal Indian education and land policies, what it terms "coercive assimilation," to suggest that at the core of the settler colony "has been a desire to divest the Indian of his [sic] land and resources." (14) In an historical moment when the hegemony of modern liberalism was challenged on many fronts--as Vine Deloria, Jr. has suggested, when "liberalism lost its credibility"--Congress turned to the functionaries of Indians and tribal entities and schooling of Indian children to purchase consent. (15) The Kennedy Report's general policy recommendations were aimed at re-determining indigenous peoples-state relations--what the report's authors termed "the general relationship between white society and Indian communities"--found in fact that "one of the primary reasons for the failure of national policy and programs for American Indians has been the exclusion--or only token involvement---of Indians in determining policy or planning of programs." (16)

THE HISTORICAL antecedents for the Kennedy Report included changes in federal law as Democrats labored to sustain a grip on electoral power. The Johnson administration's legislative agenda for a Great Society, for instance, included the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which established Head Start, Upward Bound, Volunteers in Service to America, and Community Action Programs (CAP). These programs aimed to enlist consent in return for a measure of community control, something that understandably appealed to Indians. In 1966 CAP awarded funding to DINE Incorporated (Demonstration in Navajo Education), a project of the Navajo government, for a bilingual school. Relocated in 1967 to a three-million dollar Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) school facility at Rough Rock, DINE drew from the Office of Economic Opportunity and BIA to fund operational expenses for Head Start programming through the eighth grade and created an all-Navajo school board to oversee school operations. (17) Five years later the Navajo government established a school division, which, at the direction of the Navajo legislature, pressured all schools serving Navajo children--BIA, state, and mission--to adopt variations of the Rough Rock model in bilingual and Navajo cultural education. Designated the Department of Dine Education (DDE) by the Navajo National Council in 2005, today its seven programs regulate all schools serving Dine children and accepting funding from the Navajo Nation. Remaining in a subordinate legal relation with Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and US and state functionaries, DDE nonetheless appears to operate something like its counterparts in Arizona and New Mexico. (18)

THUS, federal Indian education policy since 1965 labored to enlist Indian consent. Finding in fact that Indian children were "at risk" in BIA and public schools, the earliest congressional appropriations traded discretionary grants with states for limited Indian participation in shaping Indian education. Congress amended Title I of Public Law 89-10 in 1966, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, to make BIA schools eligible for these special grants. Setting the precedent of making such grants available to urban Indian populations and state-recognized and terminated tribes, successive congresses passed the Indian Education Act of 1972, which was amended in 1975 specifically to require Indian participation in programs supported by Johnson O'Malley funding. (19) The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, codified as Public Law 93-638, established what is popularly referred to as "638 contracting" and compacting made possible under a 1994 amendment to the 1975 legislation. PL 93-638 created the conditions possible for tribal governments and organizations to take some measure of local administrative responsibility for education previously provided for them by the BIA or through direct federal funding to states.

This practice of enlisting tribal governments as service providers for federal Indian education appropriations continued after 1975. In a broader policy context for indigenous peoples-state and market relations that since 1994 included education, a tribal-state compacting system emerged from the 1988 Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act (Public Law 100-497, 25 US Code [section] 2701). (20) Since 1988, federal policy generally in the context of contemporary federalism--marked by transfers of responsibility from federal to individual state governments--extended the tribalstate compacting system from gaming to taxation (e.g., tobacco and motor fuels), hunting and fishing, criminal jurisdiction, and education. Tribal governments under this sort of forced federalism in 2010 have no choice but to deal with state governments when negotiating compacts in any of these areas, which, as Jeff Corntassel and Richard Witmer point out, has placed Indian and tribal entities in positions of reasserting their jurisdictional authority and governance powers with state and municipal policymakers who often view Indians as stakeholders or service populations rather than self-determining governments. In the field of Indian education policy, the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (specifically, Title IX, Part A: Indian Education), reauthorized the 1972 Indian Education Act. Twenty-two years later, in 1994, it augmented contracting between Indian tribes and tribal organizations and federal entities to pressure Indian and tribal entities to compact educational services directly with states. Title VII, Part A: Indian Education of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 not only reauthorized the contracting system in Title I of Public Law 89-10, it also authorized school districts under the supervision of the US Department of Education to consolidate as part of their strategic plans all federal funding they received for Indian education.

AS APPARATUSES have grown through the demands of tribal-federal contracting and tribal-state compacting, state education programs for Indian children like TUSD's Native American Studies Department in 2010 represent the complex government-to-government relationships among tribal, state, and federal governments. (21) Through funding for Pascua Yaqui tribal members enrolled in TUSD schools provided by Yaqui Education Services, paid for in part in 2008 by a contract with the BIA, it is accountable in 2010 to the eleven-member tribal council of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe located in Tucson. Its constituencies also include students representing dozens of tribes, bands, villages, pueblos, and reservations from all over the United States and not only Arizona. It administers the Tribal Images Youth Council, which provides leadership experiences for Indian children representing schools in the district, and the Junior Warrior and Warrior societies, which acknowledge academic excellence among middle school and high school students. It provides funding to eligible students for fees related to everything from athletics to the costs of taking advanced placement exams and the ACT and SAT. Because TUSD accepts federal appropriations for Indian education, Indian parents have the opportunity to advise the Native American Studies Department. According to by-laws approved in 2005 by TUSD board members, an 8-10 elected member Indian Education Advisory Committee, which is not required to be all Indian, is accountable to the district board; thus, as an advisory body it is not statutorily tied to any Indian or tribal entity or any grassroots Indian organization. TUSD draws from Johnson-O'Malley to pay school tutors for Indian pupils, which are supervised by the district's Native American Studies Department. The Native American Studies Department is accountable to the State of Arizona and its directives for education, of course; but federal appropriations for Indians specifically were excluded from the surveillance of HB 2281.

Thus, in a context when the Arizona legislature and executive has crafted a bureaucratic iron fist with broad powers to crush TUSD Mexican American Studies, Indian education in Tucson signals the disposition of indigenous peoples-state relations in a moment of self-determination and consultation growing into forced federalism. Whether TUSD's Native American Studies Department offers a structure in this context leading to empowerment--Indian education by Indians--seems unlikely. What appears to be dominant is a new form of paternalism in exchange for continued Indian participation in the education of Indian children. How we see Indian education, by Indians or for Indians, probably is dependent upon how we position our politics in relation to sovereignty, a sustainable racial justice, and what Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton in Black Power designated "community control." (22) Perhaps, as Ture and Hamilton suggested in 1967, racialized communities should close ranks in 2010. (23) Why should racialized communities not have control over a wide range of social and economic institutions upon which they depend as clients, including the education of their children?

American Indian Studies as a Liberatory Intellectual Project

IN "Who Stole Native American Studies?" writer and Crow Creek Sioux scholar Elizabeth Cook-Lynn locates in the First Convocation of American Indian Scholars in 1970 at Princeton University the root of an intellectual project that reclaimed Racialized Communities Studies by Indians from the domains of the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Characterizing this gathering of "Native scholars, professional people, artists, and traditional historians" dominated by "western Indians" as primarily concerned with "the defense of the land and indigenous rights," she effectively locates the beginnings for an intellectual project concerned with variations on indigeneity (e.g., self-determined cultural identity) and sovereignty (e.g., self-governance) in a historical, intellectual, and relational context of settler colonization. (24) "The first ideal intention," she told an audience at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1998, "was the defense of lands and resources and the sovereign right to nation-to nation status" and to oral traditions, indigenous languages, and treaties "as the bases for the development of defensive, regulatory, and transformative mechanisms." (25)

While Cook-Lynn characterizes the academy as the place where transformative grassroots momentum is rendered ineffectual, and many agree, University of Victoria indigenous governance professor Taiaiake Alfred characterizes it as contentious ground that must be occupied and where indigenous rights must be defended. Addressing indigenous readers in "Warrior Scholarship," for instance, he makes the case that universities "reflect the tensions and dynamics of our relationships as Indigenous peoples interacting with people and institutions in society as whole." (26) Universities, he writes with implications for those of us tasked with training the next generations of the professional-middle class, "are not safe ground, [but] they are our sites of colonialism [a]nd they are our responsibility." (27)

BECAUSE, as Alfred suggests, settler colonization is a "total existence" the responsibility for addressing it in indigenous peoples-state and intergroup relations plainly must fall upon those of us tasked with socializing the professional middle class. Because the professional middle class will determine the future, this responsibility is not simply a moral obligation or a key matter of professional ethnics. Although it is these things, it's political too. As professional-middle class allies in the intellectual struggles of our indigenous colleagues laboring in the academy today against various insidious forms of systemic racism and other sobering violence in Indian communities, we take the sorts of rational criticism advanced by Cook-Lynn and Alfred seriously. As evidenced by a dearth of autonomous programs and departments with tenure-granting authority, no widely-known peer-reviewed publications, conflation with student affairs and cultural programming, and precarious professional associations (to mention only a few of many examples), the institutional position of an American Indian Studies that invests in the costs of intellectual labor concerned with antiracism and indigenous autonomy (e.g., measured separatism), not unlike TUSD Mexican American Studies, like a beachhead in wartime, remains fragile in the twenty-first century. (28) Because it is tenuously-held territory inside the academy, its products of intellectual labor might justly be considered weapons of political struggle in the realm of ideas rather than naively only as pursuit of knowledge.

Thus, as Cook-Lynn and Alfred represent differently, American Indian Studies is an intellectual project concerned with the related matters of theorizing indigenous sovereignties and constructing pathways of psychological autonomy from the settler colony. It is a project focused on indigenous peoples-state and market relations of power. Emergent from Vine Deloria, Jr.'s We Talk, You Listen (1970), American Indian Studies also is concerned with redetermining, or decolonizing and deracializing, an intergroup relation of power. Deloria, at least as much as any other single Indian scholar, set a direction and tone after 1970 for the intellectual project of American Indian Studies concerned with both the political theories of indigenous peoples-state and market and intergroup relations that has unfolded since. (29) In his second of many books, We Talk, You Listen, he identified two rival forms of social organization that would vie to replace the vacuum left by the failure of markets dominated by global corporations to deliver on the promise of equality to racialized communities: one was neotribalism and the other, neofeudalism. (30)

FOR DELORIA, in 1970, "massive corporate organizations have driven us well into the era of neofeudalism." Many of us likely agree in general terms today that corporations are driving us somewhere toward doom, but probably not yet into neo-feudalism. In 1970, however, it was clear to Deloria that at the same time corporations were not capable of providing mechanisms necessary for people to effectively manage technologies produced by the sciences, "American society [was] unconsciously going Indian," too. (31)
   Moods, attitudes, and values are changing. People
   are becoming more aware of their isolation
   even while they continue to worship the rugged
   individualist who needs no one. The self-sufficient
   man is casting about for a community to
   call his own. The glittering generalities and
   mythologies of American society no longer satisfy
   the need and desire to belong. (32)

Neotribalism, for Deloria, offered a preferable alternative in this vacuum left by the death of liberalism to the appeal of neofeudalistic hierarchy and hereditary control because, as he wrote, neofeudalism like any market-based ideology offered a means for individuals to belong constructively in relation to each other and to the land based only on economic criteria and competition. And far too many people weren't buying this view anyway, he suggested; the distance between promise and lived experience was far too wide.

Citing various examples of what he termed "the movement of sovereignty toward nation groups" (e.g., Black Muslims, the Amish in the Midwest, hippies in the North Beach Area of San Francisco), for Deloria in 1970, "[f]urther generalizations about how we are all alike--all people--are useless." (33)
   Definite points of view, new logic, and different
   goals define us. All we can do is try to communicate
   what we feel our group means to itself and
   how we relate to other groups. Understanding
   each other as distinct peoples is the most important
   thing. As to the point of view, there really is a
   difference. A man was explaining his war experiences
   to his son one day. "There we were, surrounded
   by thousands of the enemy. Bullets were
   whizzing around our heads. Our water was gone.
   We had no food and our ammunition was running
   out. Suddenly, in the distance, we heard the
   welcome sound--of war whoops." (34)

From "the desire of minorit[ized] groups to withdraw into their own communities and discover a way of life all their own--one which might prove superior to the traditional American way of life"--Deloria suggested forty years ago, racialized and other minoritized communities will attract disbelief and draw anger from those who benefit most from grounding their identities in market competition and Protestant individualism. (35) The ideology of belonging together as individual producers and consumers could not, under any circumstances, deal with the cultural, group-oriented aspirations of peoples who had come under the US Constitution as groups (e.g., white Americans in 1790, Mexican Americans in 1848, African Americans in 1868, and American Indians in 1871).

IN 1970 Deloria rejected radical economic and theological theories of the individual as generally applicable to all groups. In the history of the US Constitutional order, he suggested, "in no case did [African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans] enter the constitutional framework as individuals." (36) Thus, he underscored the extraordinary value of a reconfigured constitutional order, among groups, which guarantees a balance in power among unique communities joined together in a treaty-covenant relationship. (37) "With the Constitution as a framework and reference point," he wrote, "it would appear that a number of conflicting interpretations of the experience of America could be validly given." (38) From processes through which distinct communities themselves (e.g., tribes determined by self-governance and self-determined cultures) defined the broader policies necessary to maintain their dignity and identity, a constitutional order which attends to achieving a balance of power among groups which are self-governed locally through the sorts of parallel institutions Indians had been able to squeeze out of the federal government, he suggested, "similarities in [shared] goals can be drawn that will have relevance beyond immediate group aspirations." (39)

As it has turned out, marked by the election Ronald Reagan in 1980, a cozy relationship between states and markets, not neofeudalism, triumphed over neotribalism. The misplaced idea of the individual unencumbered by determinations of race as the only agent of history today is the prevailing common sense. Marking the colorblind neoliberal citizen-consumer as perhaps the most daunting obstacle to racial justice, we sketch three implications of HB 2281 in Arizona for racialized communities generally before turning to close with brief thoughts about a sustainable racial justice, Racialized Communities Studies, and socializing the next generation of the professional middle class.

Implications of HB 2281: From the Grounds of American Indian Studies

WHEN ASKED in 2003 how well Americans re progressing toward Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of racial equality," Comanche/Kiowa scholar and Portland State University professor Cornel Pewewardy, in a manner similar to Malcolm X, responded "For me, it's not an American dream, it's an indigenous nightmare." (40) As Pewewardy's pointed reply powerfully suggests, the neoliberal vision and aspiration of racial equality linked to contemporary symptoms of manifest destiny will not ease the unresolved and still unfolding indigenous nightmare and the inherent violence of the settler colony. The conditions of an "American dream" that leave Indians in the twenty-first century twice as likely as all other Americans to experience criminal victimization and with a rate of food insecurity that is higher among Indians with children than among the rest of the population with children will continue to haunt ill-advised, deeply-troubling efforts to assimilate most Indians, at best, into the margins of the American dream. (41)

Thus, for too many Indians the lived experience with the settler colony and its neoliberal colorblindness appropriately might be considered everything from terrifying to traumatic. An analysis crafted from a critique of the neoliberal, colorblind take on and vision for the promise of America also might designate that experience as contradictory, rather than a nightmare. The contradiction to which we allude here (and, for Clark, more broadly elsewhere) is the dialectical relation between the promise of belonging as individual citizen-consumers--even through a flexible citizenship and graduated sovereignty which acknowledge the sovereignties of Indian and tribal entities--and lived experiences with a system in which most of us are functionaries and clients, distributors and consumers, not makers of policy who control its production. (42) Said plainly, in the current arrangement, we all are hosts for corporate parasites.

HB 2281 in Arizona makes our observation material. When interpreted in the contemporary context of federal Indian education policy and critiqued from the intellectual framework of Native American Studies, the prevailing idea of education and practice of schooling youth for a future relegated to merciless economic competition fails--and inevitably will forsake--racialized communities. Indeed it fails us all because, if nothing else, it forestalls the opportunity to be fully human in relationship to our places, cultures, and each other. Its costs are high, its benefits out of reach for far too many. Before closing with ephemeral thoughts about racial justice and socializing the professional middle class, with its social and cultural costs in mind, we discuss three implications of HB 2281 for Racialized Communities Studies.

FIRST, HB 2281 invalidates the intellectual projects pursued by Racialized Communities Studies in the academy. As we suggested from the outset, HB 2281 is predicated on neoliberal colorblind racial ideology. That ideological orientation is rooted in logic that undermines the work of Racialized Communities Studies by denying colonization and racial oppression, white privilege, and, importantly, the past and present of racialized communities' grassroots efforts to name and hold accountable the agents and institutions of settler colonization, racial oppression, and white supremacy. The bold legal denial of these flawed American building blocks embodied in HB 2281 sends the message that these cancers on intergroup relations no longer exist, that they are no longer pressing concerns that affect the lives of racialized communities.

With this deception reverberating through the halls of secondary schools and educational policy-making institutions alike, any shared intellectual project for Racialized Communities Studies is in danger of being sacrificed in the name of a unified American dream. As we move forward, Racialized Communities Studies might serve not only their own academic interests but the interests of the communities they stand in the academy to represent. Drawing from their intellectual weapons to challenge a false sense of complacency inducing progress, Racialized Communities Studies stand in a unique position to challenge the misplaced notion that oppression has ended because the privileged racial class says it is over. As educational leadership and policies studies scholar and Arizona State University professor Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy and his colleagues note in Reviews of Research in Education, homogenization toward an "American" norm is one method used in educational policy to obliterate all recognition of racial formation and its debilitating societal effects. Federal functionaries executed a similar strategy earlier against Indian peoples, as Brayboy and colleagues point out, through a succession of disastrous assimilation policies. (43) We see Horne and his political peers pursuing a strikingly similar strategy in 2010, using HB 2281 as a coercive means of compelling compliance with assimilationist logic.

SECOND, the colorblind racial ideology powering HB 2281 cultivates white racial anxiety and resentment by catapulting blame for contemporary racial issues onto racialized communities themselves. There is empirical evidence provided by Lisa Spanierman and Mary Heppner to support a psychological link between racial colorblindness as a legitimizing ideology and the observed upsurge in white racial fear and anxiety toward racial and ethnic "others." (44) Oftentimes, anxiety and fear, which further erode the potential for healthy intergroup relations, lead to a "blame the victim" mentality directed against racialized communities by whites. Blaming the victim is a subtle form of racism that absolves whites of any responsibility for the consequences of systemic racism in society. Designating it "laissez-faire racism," Lawrence Bobo and James Kluegel found in the 1990 General Social Survey that among whites there is a tendency to attribute disparities between whites and racialized communities to unique, racial deficiencies in the members of a particular racial group (e.g., "American Indians are disproportionately affected by poverty because they refuse to work hard.") rather than blaming inequalities on the institutions and ideologies that perpetuate them. (45)

We see this same mentality replicated twenty years later in HB 2281. Horne and his allies accuse TUSD Mexican American Studies of perpetuating ethnic pasts, weighed down by tradition, and refusing to embrace an assimilated (and supposedly inevitable) future. Although federal funding for Indian education exempts TUSD's Native American Studies from the effects of HB 2281, the laissez-faire racism underlying it is a potential threat to developing an academic component grounded in research for the student affairs programming offered by TUSD Native American Studies; this is clear when we consider the trend in tribal-federal and tribal-state relations toward forced federalism, where increasingly federal policy is compelling tribes to compact with states for social services whether they see doing so as in their interests or not. As we press forward in the academy to train the next generation of the professional middle class, Racialized Communities Studies programs are called for to help destabilize white racial anxiety and resentment. As educators charged with the preparation and socialization of the professional middle class, which includes future public school teachers, we are uniquely positioned to problematize, rearticulate, and reframe the spaces joining racialized communities in collective empowerment and liberation struggles. From inroads we have made in general education requirements for students in historically white colleges and universities, for instance, we see at least a small measure of hope for effecting a shift away from white racial anxiety and resentment and toward white people participating in naming and holding accountable systems of power, privilege, and oppression. These inroads offer hope more broadly, too, for imagining and making material intergroup relations that are rooted in mutual respect and understanding of each other's unique political situation, and multi-voiced, multi-interest negotiations. (46)

THIRD, Racialized Communities Studies are distinctively positioned in the academy to critique the common sense of shared identities linked to economic criteria and competition. Given the fractured nature of intergroup relations and the legitimizing ideologies that perpetuate and intensify these relations damaged by white supremacy and its enabling institutions, what remains in the way of a balm for irritated and inflamed intergroup relations, as Deloria suggested forty years ago in We Talk, You Listen, is to "understand each other as distinct peoples." (47) If this unfinished project, designated "America" is to be saved from the model of individual colorblind citizen-consumer, assuming it is worth saving, only from understanding each other as unique but interrelated peoples, rather than as individual islands in a sea of economic competition does the prospect of determining similarities in the sorts of shared goals that have bearing beyond pressing group ambitions come into reach. Racialized Communities Studies are poised to negotiate and initiate this sort of peoples-based process across multiple contexts. Just as the curricular project of TUSD Mexican American Studies defends the dignity of groups as historical agents in schools, critical Racialized Communities Studies might stand together as a beachhead inside the apparatuses of the academy.

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Horne, Tom, Superintendent of Public Instruction. All Open Letter to the Citizens of Tucson, June 11, 2007. State of Arizona, Department of Education. Phoenix, Arizona.

Huffman, Terry. "Resistance Theory and the Transculturation Hypothesis as Explanations of College Attrition and Persistence among Culturally Traditional American Indian Students." Journal of American Indian Education 40, no 3 (2001) : 1-23.

Jacobson, Matthew Frye. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Larimore, James A., and George S McClellan. "Native American Student Retention in US Postsecondary Education." New Directions for Student Services 109 (Spring 2005): 17-32.

Lomawaima, K. Tisanina. "American Indian Education: by Indians versus for Indians." In A Companion to American Indian History, edited by Philip J. Deloria and Neal Salisbury, 422440. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.

Maaka, Roger, and Augie Fleras. The Politics of Indigeneity: Challenging the State in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Press, 2005.

McCarty, Teresa L. A Place to Be Navajo: Rough Rock and the Struggle for Self-Determination in Indigenous Schooling. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002.

Monahan, Torin, and Rodolfo D. Torres. Schools Under Surveillance: Cultures of Control in Public Education. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010. "On the Street," Lawrence Journal-World, January 20, 2003.

Painter, Nell Irvin. The History of White People. New York, NY: Norton, 2010.

Pavlik, Steve, and Daniel R. Wildcat, eds. Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria, Jr. and His Influence on American Society. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2006.

Perry, Steven W. American Indians and Crime: A BJS Statistical Profile. Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2004.

Peter, Zsombor. "A 'Good Day' for Dine Youth." Gallup Independent, July 20, 2005.

Pewewardy, Cornel, and Bruce Frey. "American Indian Students' Perceptions of Racial Climate, Multicultural Support Services, and Ethnic Fraud at a Predominantly White University." Journal of American Indian Education 43, no 1 (2004): 32-60.

Porter, Robert B. "Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty through Peacemaking: How the Anglo-American Legal Tradition Destroys Indigenous Societies." Columbia Human Rights Law Review 28 (Winter 1997), 235-305.

Roediger, David R. Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White. Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, 2005.

Smith, Andrea. "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing." In Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology, 66-73. Boston: South End Press, 2006.

Spanierman, Lisa B., and Mary Heppner. "Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (PCRW): Construction and Initial Validation." Journal of Counseling Psychology 51 (April 2004), 249-262.

Susser, Deborah Sussman. "Ethnic Studies Ban Debated." Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, May 7, 2010.

Ture, Kwame, and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation. 1967. Reprint, New York: Vintage, 1992.

US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare: A Resolution on Authorizing an Investigation into the Problems of Educatiort for American Indians, 91st Cong., 1st sess., 1969.

Williams, Robert A., Jr. Linking Arms Together: American Indian Visions of Law and Peace, 1600-1800. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Zaitchik, Alexander. Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010.


(1.) In a May 11 press release from Paul Senseman, the Director of Communications in the Office of the Governor and Brewer's chief spokesperson, nothing is mentioned about HB 2281 under a heading that reads "Governor Jan Brewer Signs Education Reform Legislation." Clark emailed Senseman and used the online "Contact the Governor" form available at to seek the rationale Brewer used to sign the legislation. He received no response through either means.

(2.) TUSD was not alone. According to a State of Arizona Senate Research Brief dated August 27, 2008, nineteen school districts "budget for costs resulting from an ongoing or resolved [Office of Civil Rights] administrative agreement or a court order of desegregation."

(3.) Based on numerous media accounts, our primary source of data for the campaign in Arizona opposed to Racialized Communities Studies in public schools, TUSD Mexican American Studies has been in Horne's crosshairs since at least 2007. In a June 7, 2007 "open letter" addressed to Tucson citizens of "all mainstream political ideologies," Horne draws upon excerpts from curricular materials taken out of context, innuendo, and examples of guilt by association to make a political case that TUSD ethnic studies "should be terminated."

(4.) Quoted in Deborah Sussman Susser, "Ethnic Studies Ban Debated," Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, May 7, 2010.

(5.) Qnoted in "Arizona School District's Radical Mexican-American Studies Program Exposed," Fox News Interview Archive, May 25, 2010.

(6.) Quoted in "Arizona Ban on Ethnic Studies Divides Educators," National Public Radio transcript, May 24, 2010.

(7.) See, for instance, Alexander Zaitchik, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).

(8.) Torin Monahan and Rodolfo D. Torres, Schools Under Surveillance: Cultures of Control in Public Education (Piscaraway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010), 2.

(9.) We co-authored, with Lisa Spanierman, Jason Soble, and Sharon Cabana, "Settler Microaggressions: Extending the Racial Microaggressions Model," Journal of Diversity in Higher Education (under review); Reed was a graduate teaching assistant in AIS 101 Introduction to American Indian Studies in the fall of 2009 and 2010. Currently, we are laboring on an extension of the study we completed with Spanierman, Soble, and Cabana for "Settler Microaggressions."

(10.) See, for instance, Terry Huffman, "Resistance Theory and the Transculturation Hypothesis as Explanations of College Attrition and Persistence among Culturally Traditional American Indian Students," Journal of American Indian Education 40, No. 3 (2001), 1-23; and Cornel Pewewardy and Bruce Frey, "American Indian Students' Perceptions of Racial Climate, Multicultural Support Services, and Ethnic Fraud at a Predominantly White University," Journal of American Indian Education 43, No. 1 (2004), 32-60.

American Indian students lag behind their peers in the rate at which they enroll in public institutions and graduate schools. The number of Indians enrolled in degree programs at public colleges and universities and graduate and professional schools remains low (i.e., 1 percent of "all undergraduates and 0.5 percent of all graduate and professional students in 2006. See Jill Fleury DeVoe and Kristen E. Darling-Churchill, Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008 (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2008). While some historically white institutions have established programs to attract American Indians so that they are slightly overrepresented in initial enrollments, attrition rates overall range from 75-95 percent. See Roger Geertz Gonzalez, "From Creation to Cultural Resistance and Expansion: Research on American Indian Higher Education," in Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, ed. John C. Smart (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer; and Larimore & McClellan, 2005), 299-327; and James A. Larimore and George S. McClellan, "Native American Student Retention in US Postsecondary Education," New Directions for Student Services 109 (Spring 2005), 17-32.

(11.) K. Tisanina Lomawaima, "American Indian Education: by. Indians versus for Indians," in A Companion to American Indian History, eds. Philip J. Deloria and Neal Salisbury (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004), 422.

(12.) Ibid.

(13.) Often referred to as Indian tribes or tribal governments, Indian and tribal entities (which include Alaska Native villages and corporations since 1971) are eligible for the programs and services provided by the US to Indians because of their legal status as Indians.

(14.) US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare: A Resolution on Authorizing an Investigation into the Problems of Education for American Indians, 91st Cong., 1st session., 1969, 21, 11. Hereinafter cited as Kennedy Report.

(15.) Vine Deloria, Jr., We Talk, You Listen: New Tribes, New Turf (1970; reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 77.

(16.) Kennedy Report, 105, 107.

(17.) See Teresa L. McCarty, A Place to Be Navajo: Rough Rock and the Struggle for Self-Determination in Indigenous Schooling (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002).

(18.) See the discussion, for instance, in Peter Zsombor, "A 'Good Day' For Dine Youth," Gallup Independent, July 20, 2005.

(19.) Under pressure from states, Congress passed the Johnson O'Malley Act of 1934 to supplement costs of schools, hospitals, and other state-funded social services through contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Directed principally at supplementing public school funding for the unique and diverse cultural needs of Indian students, later amendments to Johnson O'Malley mandated lines of communication and collaborative efforts between Indian parents of school children and schools receiving Johnson O'Malley funds. Other acts of Congress established the conditions required for schools to contract directly with Indian and tribal entities for Johnson O'Malley funds.

(20.) See Jeff Corntassel and Richard C. Witmer, Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008).

(21.) Not accounting for those young people attending private schools, more than 90 percent of 540,000-plus Indian students likely will attend public schools in 2010-11. Thus, BIA-funded schools will serve fewer than 10 percent of all Indian students enrolled in elementary and secondary schools. While in 1999-2000, these schools served 47,080 students, according to the most recent annual report card available at the website for the Bureau of Indian Education, the BIA funds 183 schools for 42,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children on 64 reservations in 23 states (70 percent of which are in four states: Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota).

(22.) Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation (1967; reprint, New York: Vintage, 1992), 205. Indian legal scholars and political theorists have argued for at least the last two decades that meaningful and lasting "tribal sovereignty"--a concept that might be translated into Racialized Communities Studies as "community control" through parallel institutions--can be realized, borrowing from Seneca legal scholar and Syracuse University law professor Robert Odawi Power, when community leaders devote "themselves to conducting their affairs in reliance upon their own traditions." See Porter's "Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty through Peacemaking: How the Anglo-American Legal Tradition Destroys Indigenous Societies," Columbia Human Rights Law Review 28 (Winter 1997), 298.

(23.) Ibid., 44.

(24.) Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, "Who Stole Native American Studies?" Wicazo Sa Review 12 (Spring 1997), 9. See also Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, "To Keep the Plot Moving," in New Indians, Old Wars (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 11-13.

A record of the papers and presentations in Princeton, New Jersey is published as Indian Voices: The First Convocation of American Indian Scholars (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press, 1970).

(25.) Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, "Native Studies is Politics: The Responsibility of Native American Studies in an Academic Setting," in Anti-lndianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya's Earth (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 153.

(26.) Taiaiake Alfred, "Warrior Scholarship: Seeing the University as a Ground of Contention," in Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities, eds. Devon Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 88.

(27.) Alfred, "Warrior Scholarship," 88. Alfred theorizes colonialism as "a total existence, a way of thinking about oneself and others always in terms of domination and submission that has come to form the very foundation of our individual and collective lives." Ibid., 89. For an interview with Alfred in which he narrates his formative experiences, which included military service, see Margaret Boyes, "Taiaiake Alfred: No Easy Way Out," Windspeaker 16 (June 1998), 14.

(28.) Clark served in the eighties as a Primary MOS 0311 rifleman and Secondary MOS 8541 scout/sniper in Charlie Company and STA Platoon, First Battalion, Seventh Marines and Echo Company, Second Battalion, Twenty-Fourth Marines. From these formative experiences, which shape his understanding of the academy, he supports the critical mission of and vision for American Indian Studies in a manner that could be approached something like a US Marine Corps infantry unit understands the strategic, longer-term and (in context) sensible importance of beachheads--tenuously-held areas on hostile shores taken from an enemy in order to secure further landing of troops and supplies. Plainly and without apology, Clark and Reed both agree, these "troops and supplies" and the leadership increasingly must be students and faculty who are intimately connected to and recognized as such by tribal communities. Thus, broad and sweeping structural changes are key.

(29.) For the scope and intensity of historian, attorney, theologian, best-selling author, and Indian rights activist Deloria's influence on the intellectual work of the professional middle-class, see Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria, Jr. and His Influence on American Society, eds. Steve Pavlik and Daniel R. Wildcat (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2006).

(30.) Deloria's first book, published the same year as the Kennedy Report, is the more widely-known Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969; reprint, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988).

(31.) Deloria, We Talk, You Listen, 16, 11.

(32.) Ibid., 11.

(33.) Ibid., 17. For Deloria's use of the term "nation group," see Ibid., 127.

(34.) Ibid., 17.

(35.) Ibid., 206.

(36.) Ibid., 146. More recent studies make the case that whites, too, were drawn under the authority of the Constitution as a dominant racial group. For the outcome of debates among members of the first Congress in 1790, which created the category "free white persons" into which immigrants who became white since have been recruited from a "racial middle ground" in a world of white-over-black, see Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), especially "'Free White Persons' in the Republic, 1790-1840." See also Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People (New York, NY: Norton, 2010); and David R. Roediger, Working Toward Whiteness: How America's Immigrants Became White (Cambridge: Basic Books, 2005).

(37.) Deloria delineated elsewhere the matter for a revitalized treaty-covenant relationship for Indians. See, for instance, Vine Deloria, Jr. Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Offering an alternative to conflicting federal definitions for tribes in "Reinstituting the Treaty Process," a chapter in Beyond the Trail of Broken Treaties, Deloria outlines a framework to achieve Indian autonomy in self-governance and restore dignity to Indian peoples under the legal theory of international protectorate. For the sketch of a promising framework which aims at redetermining power in indigenous peoples-state relations through "constructive engagement," see Roger Maaka and Augie Fleras, The Politics of Indigeneity: Challenging the State in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand (Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Press, 2005), especially the chapter entitled "Indigeneity at the Edge."

(38.) Deloria, We Talk, You Listen, 43.

(39.) Ibid., 44.

(40.) Quoted in "On the Street," Lawrence Journal-World, January 20, 2003.

(41.) Steven W. Perry, American Indians and Crime: A BJS Statistical Profile (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2004); and Craig Gundersen, "Measuring the Extent, Depth, and Severity of Food Insecurity: An Application to American Indians in the United States," Journal of Population Economics 21 (2008): 191-215.

(42.) See D. Anthony Clark, indigenous Acts: Dialectical Indigeneity and a Decolonial Politics of Culture (in progress).

(43.) Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, Angelina E. Castagno, and Emma Maughan, "Equity and Justice for All? Examining Race in Education Scholarship," Reviews of Research in Education 31 (March 2007), 151-194, especially 166.

(44.) Lisa B. Spanierman and Mary Heppner, "Psychosocial Costs of Racism to Whites Scale (PCRW): Construction and Initial Validation," Journal of Counseling Psychology 51 (April 2004), 249-262.

(45.) Lawrence Bobo and James R. Kluegel, "Status, Ideology, and Dimensions of Whites' Racial Beliefs and Attitudes," in Racial Attitudes in the 1990s Continuity and Change, eds. Steven A. Tuch and Jack K. Martin (New York: Praeger, 1997), 93-120.

(46.) For a discussion of certain obstacles to this sort of coalition building, drawn from her experience as community organizer, see Andrea Smith, "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy: Rethinking Women of Color Organizing," in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (Boston: South End Press, 2006).

(47.) Deloria, We Talk, You Listen, 17.
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Author:Clark, D. Anthony; Reed, Tamilia D.
Publication:The Black Scholar
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2010
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