Bless Me, Ultima, the movie, stars 11-year-old Luke Ganalon and the renowned Puerto Rican actress, Miriam Colón Valle
Banned Chicano book on big screen It took 30 years but, in February, film aficionados will see a big-screen version of a Chicano literary masterpiece, Bless Me, Ultima. The movie is based on the 1972 novel by New Mexican writer, Rudolfo Anaya, and directed by Carl Franklin. This classic story describes how Antonio, a young boy in New Mexico, learns about life and spirituality from the elderly Ultima, a curandera. One of the reasons it took so long to make the movie was because the novel was controversial to some, who tried to ban the book from being taught in schools. Anaya’s novel was one of the books banned by the Tucson Unified School District when it shut down the MexicanAmerican Studies Program. Since the book was published, parents in other school districts across the U.S. have claimed that Bless Me, Ultima treats religion irreverently and has bilingual cuss words, according to Banned in the U.S.A: A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries. This book quotes Deidra DiMaso, a parent in Wappingers Falls, New York, as saying, “The book is full of sex and cursing.” 12
Latino Perspectives Magazine
¡ February 2013!
Anaya, a prolific Chicano author and playwright, told the Los Angeles Times in 2009: “What are these people afraid of? ... We have ample evidence throughout history of what happens when we start banning books, when we are afraid of ideas and discussion and analytical thinking. The society will suffer.”
Latino political power permeates district races Growing Latino voting power and political influence may determine the outcomes of elections in Phoenix City Council Districts 8 and 4. A black council member has represented Phoenix District 8 for decades. However, last year’s council redistricting, plus Kate Gallego’s early entry into the election race, may end the black lock on the seat. Kate is the wife of state Rep. Ruben Gallego, the House’s Democratic assistant minority leader, and not a Latina. In another council contest, David Lujan, a former state legislator and candidate for state attorney general, was an early candidate for District 4. Councilman Michael Johnson now represents District 8, and the job will
be open when his term ends this year. Councilman Tom Simplot also will vacate his seat in District 4. In July 2012, the Phoenix City Council voted to adopt a redrawn District 8 map. The new lines slightly reduced the number of District 8 black voters, and also removed cultural points of pride, such as the George Washington Carver Cultural Center and the Phoenix OIC workforce complex, and plopped them in Councilman Michael Nowakowski’s District 7. In addition, economic engines such as Chase Field, US Airways Center, ASU’s downtown campus, major hotels and restaurants, and arts amenities such as the downtown arts district were shifted out of District 8 into District 7. Now, Democratic candidates are jockeying for position in the heavily Democratic District 8. Former state Rep. Cloves Campbell Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant (with a wide circulation in the black community) has announced he will run; Lawrence Robinson, recently elected to the Roosevelt Elementary School District, filed his candidacy; and the Rev. Warren Stewart, Sr., pastor of the First Institutional Baptist Church,