Letter from Arizona: Identity, Exclusion, and History
I’m in Arizona, visiting my parents.
There are shelves and shelves of old photo albums here. When I was going through these albums yesterday, I found pictures of people who no longer count much as family, who’ve left marriages to my siblings or other relatives.
I expunged several of these pictures, with permission. We in the clan are much disposed to love those who love us, and spurn in turn those who have spurned one or another of us.
I’m right down the road from Tucson. Just weeks ago, Latino Studies programs were banned from many schools here. It was ruled that groups which
- Promote the overthrow of the United States government, including any suggestion that any U.S. lands once part of Mexico be returned
- Promote resentment toward a race or class of people
- Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group
- Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals
are now considered to be against the law. The ruling seems to apply at this point only to Latino study groups, and is being contested.
Is it right for me to prune these photo albums? Am I re-writing history or promoting resentment towards these ex-laws by excluding them from the center of regard?
In healthy societies, there is a balance between the in-group and out-group mentality. I can honor membership in my family/religion/regionality/ethnic group and not yours, while benefitting from all kinds of intimate and transformative relationships with everyone else’s. I’m not sure that excessive grumbling about the ex-laws is healthy, but nor does it feel appropriate to have to keep those smiling pics in the family album.
When next we Beertonians review the contents of our Time Capsule, will we find that such exclusionary/in-group thinking is part of our decision-making process?
Should it be allowed to be?
-Jessica Lefkow (Hereford, AZ)