Letter to My Former Teachers

I make the mistake sometimes, as many people do, of putting people I look up to on a moral pedestal. While I was a student in the Mexican-American studies classes I was in awe of my teachers. They were my social justice rock stars. I believed that they would always be defenders of justice and protectors of humanity. They told me at every opportunity how important it was to stand on the side of people, not profit or ego. Yet, as I write this there is a Mexican-American Studies (MAS) teacher promoting Precious Knowledge somewhere.

It is difficult for me to describe the betrayal I feel. I looked up to these teachers for so long and they were always after me to challenge myself to “do the right thing.” However, here they are supporting the film Precious Knowledge while knowing about the sexual assault, harassment and exploitation of young people perpetrated by the director. I never thought that the incredible people who transformed my life could disappoint me so horribly.

After I learned about the domestic violence incident involving a man close to the teachers, I was again devastated to learn that it was just part of a pattern that had been going on for years. While I was in the MAS classes my teachers spoke of this man like he was a demi-God, all the while knowing what violence he perpetrated at home. How could they, with good conscience speak about feminism and sexual harassment through stories like Vatolandia and at the same time praise and promote a man who uses violence against women?

I understand and want to clarify that not all of the teachers are equal participants in covering up these assaults. However, by not speaking up, they are still guilty of maintaining the same detrimental silence. The refusal of the teachers to speak up and defend women, and youth, some of whom are their former students, astonishes me. They have been playing the martyrs in the struggle and I am sick of the excuses. I understand that the past two years have been hard on them and their families, but it has been hard for all of us.

It is choices like keeping around a lawyer who has terrorized women and youth in Tucson for decades that makes me question their integrity. It is the silence against the accusations made by a rogue blogger. It’s the cooperation with Precious Knowledge and their role in silencing the survivor of assault that makes me think that the teachers may want to readjust their priorities.

A few MAS teachers do not approve of what malintZine has been doing. It is ironic because I think in many ways what malintZine can be defined as Panche Be, a core principle in the Mexican-American Studies classes. We seek the root of the truth.

Just like you taught us to.

2 thoughts on “Letter to My Former Teachers

  1. Yours is an authentic voice…..one that will be trusted. No one really listened when doubts were expressed about the MAS “icons”…… not until you spoke.

    Stand tall, be proud….. trust your inner strength…… you not be easily deceived ever again.

  2. I think we should all recognize that the film was/is a CONTROVERSY – some men&women use it, some men&women don’t. Some see it as a NEEDED propaganda (in a positive sense of the word), a medium to tell the story of the MAS struggle to the world. I think it’s a big irony that Blaze doesn’t mention the perpetrator, leaves him alone… and goes after the teacher(s?). this should be questioned. My point is that even though most people are against sexual harrassment, the USE of the film was debated, was not clearly an easy decision. It was a collective dilemma. This story above also seems one-sided and to say that a man “uses violence against women” is a blanket statement – it does not describe degree of violence, and doesn’t allow for CORRECTION… and we ALL need space for correction. I highly value Chicana feminist theory, multiple perspectives, but I think the above account is one-sided, personal (chisme-tainted) and malicious. I don’t agree with the point of view, and I don’t think it is Panche Be “reaching for the root of truth”. But I am willing to continue a dialogue… a necessary dialogue. con respeto, in the interest of the people and Chican@ Studies … Elias

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