A New Mexico House resolution aimed at uniting representatives around the state’s diverse school curriculum may have backfired.
New Mexico State Rep. Antonio Maestas (D-Albuquerque) introduced a House Memorial, or a resolution, that condemned Arizona’s court ruling upholding the ban Mexican-American studies.
The house memorial cites the specific books that were subsequently banned in Arizona, hoping to use literature as rallying point for his colleagues.
WHEREAS, New Mexico's neighboring state of Arizona in 2011 approved legislation that forced the Tucson Unified School District to suspend its Mexican American studies program in 2012; and WHEREAS, as a result of the suspension, seven books that embody the spirit of diversity… were effectively banned
WHEREAS, New Mexicans are encouraged to read all books that celebrate diversity; and WHEREAS, New Mexico is not Arizona
Maestas was successful in bringing the issue to the attention of his colleagues at the House Education Committee but he was surprised to hear one of their responses.
"These are extremely racist and hate books," Representative Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) said.
She read some excerpts during the committee hearing to defend her position.
"My culture has been raped," she read adding, "now understand as I continue to read this is teaching third grade to 12th grade."
Maestas defended his stance, and told the Huffington Post on Wednesday, the state should use this moment as an opportunity to celebrate its culture.
“What happened in Arizona recently was so un-American, and it’s particularly un-New Mexican,” Maestas said. “New Mexico is a state that takes great pride in celebrating its diversity.”
The House Memorial tabled Monday and will be up for consideration again on Wednesday. If passed, copies will be sent to the two states' governors: Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Jan Brewer of Arizona.