Aunt Lute Celebrates 30 years: Dangerous Voices

While many of our authors express ideas that challenge patriarchal culture’s view of propriety, some of our books have been actively suppressed and censored. For our final week, it is these books that we honor. Even though these books, including Borderlands/La Frontera, have attained respect in certain circles of the academy, it is important to remember that their revolutionary ideas still hold the power to offend. In fact, just this year in Arizona, Borderlands was among many books banned from the high school curriculum. This list reminds us of how much the world has changed—as well as how fragile our gains can be. By standing against institutional powers and continuing to challenge racism and patriarchy, these Dangerous Voices remind us of the real cost of standing up for one’s beliefs, and this final week we would like to especially honor the bravery of these women for doing so despite the risk.

Alice Walker: Banned is a comprehensive look at how and why Walker’s provocative work was censored as well as lauded. It has been removed from curricula, libraries and tests, yet retains its power to confront complacency. And it is that strange mix of fear and respect that is so confusing in Walker’s and other cases of censorship; even as she was accepting an award from the California governor, that state’s school board was removing her work from their tests. In reviewing the flimsy accusations and what perhaps lay behind them, Alice Walker: Banned offers a broader critique of censorship of any work.

 

Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, recently reprinted with the contributions of our supporters through Kickstarter, was also banned when it came out—and remains controversial today, as it was recently banned from high school curriculums in Arizona. Yet the impassioned response to this most recent censorship shows how far we have come when compared to the silencing Anzaldúa experienced early in her career: from her youth in Texas where speaking Spanish could be punished with physical violence to her doctoral school’s refusal to let her study Chicana literature. In an era of culture wars, when conservatives lobbied for a constitutional amendment to make English the official language, Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands bravely forged forward in hybridity, refusing to rank oppressions or pit gender against race.

Teacher at Point Blank takes on yet another aspect of oppression through a personal discussion of Jo Scott-Coe’s experiences as a teacher. Through this lens, she reveals the impossible expectations placed on “pink collar” workers and the sexualization teachers experience with no support from their administrations. The work is a deeply uncomfortable look at the ways the suburban school system is flawed not only in terms of developing high-achieving students in place of disgruntled drop outs, but in the way it reinforces the worst aspects of patriarchy. Scott-Coe reveals this underbelly of teaching at exactly the time when we need most to have an honest discussion about what is and is not working in American schools.

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