Emotional Appeals and Abusive Strategies: The Political Framing of Mexican American Studies as Anti-White and Anti-American

Authors: Gloria Howerton*,
Topics: Political Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Education, Race, Affective Geographies, Political Geography, Latinx, Nationalism, Whiteness, Law, Policy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper addresses how the attempted erasure of Mexican American history and culture in public K-12 classrooms in Tucson, Arizona was first promoted through strategies that make emotional appeals to primarily white conservatives, and second was justified through methods that align closely with those used by abusers to silence and confuse their victims. Since 2010, the Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 15-112 was used as justification to end Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) Mexican American studies (MAS) courses. Schools in the United States are linked to the maintenance of inequality among disparate racial and ethnic groups, both historically and in the present day. Schools in the US often promote "equal opportunity" via training non-white students in becoming "whiter" while denying their own backgrounds, thereby reproducing the established racial hierarchy that promotes whiteness as both superior and more "American." Here, I examine the dog whistles to conservative white residents of Arizona that played upon a complex web of emotions including anxiety, fear, indignation and a feeling of insult or offense. I then consider the overlap between conservative political responses to accusation of racial animus in the writing and implementation of ARS § 15-112 and the abusive strategy of DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender). With these entangled strategies, they were able to both pass ARS § 15-112 and frame the termination of MAS courses as a corrective reaction to the anti-white racism and anti-Americanism they claimed was at work in these classes.

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