Originally published at Latin Heat. Republished by permission.
The documentary Outlawing Shakespeare explores how Arizona officials have outlawed books and authors such as renowned British author William Shakespeare because they believe he is too controversial. You can view the documentary at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anChx_9TF-Q
With Latinos soon to become the majority in the United States of America, conservative and racist politicians, government and education officials have taken action by spreading fear that Latinos are secretly plotting to take back the southwest (Aztlan) and giving it to Mexico. The first line of action that (amazingly enough even though there are approximately 30% Latinos in this state) passed and became law is HB 2281 where Mexican American Studies are henceforth banned. Books related to this ethnic studies program are also banned. Teachers cannot have any banned books in their personal possession or bookcases on campus.
Outlawing Shakespeare examines if there is a rebellion in Tucson or if the officials are worried about an impending Latino majority in Arizona. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne blames the United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta for angering conservatives six years ago when she said, "Republicans hate Latinos." Is this the reason, or are there other reasons for outlawing books? The filmmakers believe it is just an excuse.
The film is a production from executive producer, Gabriel Buelna, PhD, MSW, Executive Director of Plaza Community Services in East Los Angeles, CA, and directed by producer/director Fernando James Orozco who has been a producer at CNN, TV Guide Channel, and Outdoor Network. Both men raised the $25,000 from private citizens, friends and family and started filming last February and finished this past September.
How is it that a couple of Latinos from California made this film from start to finish, including raising the funds?
As Latinos, Buelna and Orosco were outraged over what was occurring in Tucson and Arizona statewide. "It was a pure racist attack on Latinos," said Buelna. "Tucson school district (TUSD) is under federal de-segregation order that has been in place for 20 years. Once the Mexican American studies program became successful that's when politicians in Arizona felt threatened and put their energies in fear mongering and set out to destroy it."
But why? "By banning books and banning the idea of critical thinking basically we saw it as political control over a group of people," explains Buelna. "Attorney General Tom Horne confirmed it when he labeled Latino kids as Hitler's youth!"
Buelna is at a loss as to why the Latino leadership on a national level were not outraged over this Hitler's labeling of our Latino children. "Why wasn't there more outraged? Why haven't the Hispanic Caucus in DC spoken out on this. Fernando [Orozco] and I moved into action and set out to expose the threat against educating our children in America."
This documentary is not only educational, it is important not to ignoreÔÇª "Tucson is not a big city but it is a Metropolitan city, the politicians here know that leadership is created by increasing academic successÔÇª what's the best way to curtail future Latino leadership?" Buelna asked. "And, other states are planning to follow Arizona's lead. It's not just a state problem for Latinos. It's on a national level."
Mexican American Studies programs are part of the American culture. If we ban this will tacos be next? "Of course not," said Buelna. "Tacos are part of the American culture." And so is being Mexican American.
Outlawing Shakespeare is 100% Latino made and being distributed independently by the filmmakers strictly through social media. "We didn't want any boundaries set on what we could or could not say." The film is free to anyone who wants to take 45 minutes to watch. "We've had a great response with people sharing the film with their own networks and organizations," Buelna said.
What has been the biggest backlash? "Probably officials lying about how we never asked them to be interviewed," laughed Buelna. "But we have video tape where we're in their offices trying to obtain interviews."
Would HBO or Showtime ever consider airing this documentary? Probably not -- too hot an issue -- but congratulations to Buelna and Orozco for tackling this attack on Latinos.
Interviewees include: Dolores Huerta, AZ Attorney General Tom Horne, Dr. Rudy Acuna, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, parents, students, and teachers.
The documentary has some dark humor woven in and there are a few shots and interviews that will make you laugh. I especially liked one of the cactus shots.
Editor's Note: After watching the documentary, we recommend you read the comments posted in response to "Outlawing Shakespeare". Your comments are welcomed at Latin Heat and LatinoLA.