They sold homemade tamales to friends, washed cars, asked for donations and even worked at sunrise in the vineyards. The question was not if; the question was how and when. With the support of family and the community, they managed to pull off a road trip in order to attend the National Tucson Freedom Summer in Tucson, Arizona.
Nine members of Napa Valley Ethnic Studies Advocates have been in Tucson, Arizona for the summer since July 6th. Seven Napa Valley College students, a Napa Valley College Ethnic Studies instructor, and a Napa High School mathematics teacher embarked on a ten day journey to be at the forefront of the battle for Ethnic Studies. Now they drive back to Napa and are expected to arrive by the end of today.
Their days consisted of volunteer community work alongside other students, educators and community members from Texas, Michigan and other states ac cross the nation. NVESA members went door to door in the Tucson neighborhoods to outreach to and educate people about the banning of Ethnic Studies in the Tucson Unified School District.
Two months ago with an audience of over 500 people at Napa Valley College. This week, NVESA and other community organizers and activist packed the Tucson School Board meeting to call out the board members' lack of professionalism and to ask that they humanize themselves in order to understand why students want and need to learn about their own culture and history.
From protests to workshops to healing ceremonies and community outreach, NVESA has been on the ground in Tucson making new friends and redefining Napa Valley beyond a respected and renowned wine destination. Tucson, Arizona will begin to recognize Napa Valley as the motherland of a group committed to social justice and educational inclusivity. And they have custom-made, hand-printed, Napa Valley-made shirts to prove it!
Tucson has a nationally renowned and nationally recognized Ethnic Studies program that has helped student success grow and narrowed the educational achievement gap. Why has the school board and the state decided to ban Ethnic Studies? Members of the Tucson School Board and the Arizona government say that Ethnic Studies teaches subversion, victimization and anti-American values. But what if Ethnic Studies helped develop the student’s social maturity, self-confidence and self-awareness needed to effectively engage with our diverse immediate & global communities? NVESA believes in the latter. Ethnic Studies teaches to live in a diverse community by recognizing the culture and history of people and thus work towards a more truthful and inclusive history of our country.
To NVESA, Ethnic Studies is cultura, and when people are disempowered, marginalized, divided and neglected, culture will cure!
¡La cultura cura!
NVESA will hold a community event to share the what they learned and experienced in the National Tucson Freedom Summer. Stay tuned! Follow them at www.facebook.com/nvethnicstudies.