The man in this video is my friend Tony Diaz, author of Aztec Love God. He and my other friends from Nuestra Palabra are doing something some may think is radical but it’s necessary.

They will drive from Houston to Tuscon, AZ armed with books by Latino authors in an effort to smuggle them back into Arizona after school districts there boxed up such books. Why were they boxed? Ethnic studies has been dismantled. 

The powers that be ruled that all ethnic studies programs in k-12 across the state be banned. Tuscon was the last to obey this law. That’s when Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal commanded that 10 percent of that district’s monthly state aid be withheld until they fall in line.

In this case, 10 percent is a $1 million.

As an education reporter I know what a $1 million means to a school district. For some, it’s the difference between existing or not.

And so teachers had to pack up books like Sandra Cisneros’s House on Mango Street. Some teachers had to do it right in front of their students. 

So my friends are going to help out Tuscon. They are going to bring the books back that have been packed up and placed in storage. These books, these authors, are part of the American literary landscape. You can not have the Bronte Sisters without the Aguero Sisters from Cristina Garcia.

For a schedule click here.

This event shows the importance of words and story. The threat they give is hope, ideas, like air in a stale environment. This stops short of burning books, which in reality is done out of fear.

What is this fear? Why are the powers that be so afraid of these books, these thoughts, these words? Because they drip with truth and expression. And people fear what they can not and do not want to understand.

So I ask all my readers, even those from across the pond and in the furthest corners of the globe, to help with the cause. Tweet about this caravan. Facebook it. Join them if you can. Donate books.

This is the cause of not just writers but of everyone. Words matter. Story matter. Ideas matter.

Here’s some details about the caravan:

Name: The Librotraficantes Banned Book Caravan

Leaving: Houston, Tx

When: Monday, March 12

Arriving in Tucson: Saturday, March 17

Where will it stop: Cities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona.

The caravan is intended to:
  1. Raise awareness of the suspension of the Mexican-American Studies Program and the removal of banned books.
  2. Promotion of banned authors and their contributions to American Literature, Non-Fiction and Poetry.
  3. Celebrate diversity: Children of the American Dream must unite to preserve the civil rights of all Americans.