New Mexican American studies textbook in the works after controversy
The Texas Board of Education is considering a new Mexican American studies textbook for high school elective classes.
If approved, The Mexican American Studies Toolkit would be the first textbook of its kind in Texas classrooms according to the lead writer and publisher, Tony Diaz.
Diaz was a strong opponent against a Mexican American studies textbook proposed in 2016. The textbook, titled “Mexican American Heritage,” was deemed unsuitable by the Texas Board of Education.
“There were no Mexican Americans or Latinos consulted at all,” said Diaz when asked about his stance on “Mexican American Heritage.”
Diaz told CBS4 he collaborated with several Latinos, Latinas, Chicanos and Chicanas to compose The Mexican American Studies Toolkit, including a photographer from El Paso named Chuy Benitez.
"[Benitez] knows the heart and soul of our community," said Diaz.
The Mexican American Studies Toolkit’s table of contents includes:
- Aztec culture
- Honoring Day of the Dead
- “The 5 Stages of Grief You’ll Go Through When Realizing There’s Now ‘Dia de los Muertos Beer’”
- “More Then Hispanic Heritage Month”
- “The Legacy of Selena”
- Dolores Huerta
“I would love it if 10 years from now, people won’t believe us when we say ‘you know at one point, there weren’t any text books that thoroughly conveyed our history and culture,” said Diaz.
Diaz said he wrote the book thinking about multimedia platforms teachers could use in the classroom such as ‘Selena’ the movie and ‘Dolores’ the documentary.
"I think what [Selena] did and what's key about her work is that she did teach folks to see ourselves as powerful and smart,” said Diaz.
When asked why it has taken decades to compose a book geared towards Mexican American studies for high schoolers, Diaz said it was due to the work and money invested in making such publication.
“It’s not because we haven’t had a lack of talent, we just haven’t had someone this far along in the process,” said Diaz.
The Mexican American Studies Toolkit had its first hearing on Wednesday in Austin. The Texas Board of Education will vote on it in November.
You can read a copy of the book here.