by David Safier
When I was a young teacher, I was surprised more than once when a sweet, gray haired, conservatively dressed librarian would talk, voice quivering with passion, about the right to have books in the high school library some community members found objectionable. Occasionally, I'd ask, "Really? That's in our library?" Librarians are passionate advocates for people's right to read what they choose.
So it didn't surprise me when the American Library Association came out with a strongly worded resolution in January against the MAS text ban at TUSD. Now the association is publicizing the upcoming Librotraficante (book trafficking) caravan scheduled to leave Houston for Tucson March 12.
Educators in the Houston metro area are readying a “book trafficker” caravan that would travel March 12–18 from Houston, Texas, to Tucson, Arizona, to donate books about the Mexican-American experience to four volunteer libraries. The donations are meant to counter the January removal of at least seven titles from Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) classrooms, where they had been taught as part of the district’s now-outlawed Mexican-American Studies (MAS) program. Reminiscent of the Occupy Wall Street Library movement, the book traffickers, or Libro Traficante, organized by Houston Community College professor Tony Diaz, plan to contribute titles to underground libraries in Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque, and Tucson.
You've got to love the language these folks have created for their caravan. "Librotraficante" is terrific. As good or better is referring to the texts as "Wet Books." You can watch a short, inspired video on the Librogtraficante website with "Tony" standing in front of his car stuffed with the wet books he's trafficking.
"Me, and my fellow librotraficantes, will be smuggling contraband books back into Arizona."