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Banned Together: Casa Borrega Hosts UNIDOS

Hugo Montero and Linda Stone, owners of Casa Borrega, are staying true to their promise to maintain a cultural center within their restaurant. Shortly after the Central City eatery’s (1712 Oretha C. Haley) July 4th opening, the pair invited  UNIDOS (United Non-Discriminatory Indivudals Demanding Our Studies) to speak against Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies, and to gather information about the unique problems facing New Orleans’ Latino community. 


UNIDOS formed in response to HB 2281, Arizon’s ban on ethnic studies throughout the state’s schools. The group joins students, alumni, and community members to spread awareness, advocate on behalf of Mexican American Studies, and empower students.


The legislation, passed in 2010 and enacted in January of 2012, calls for a ban on any educational materials in public or charter schools. Contraband includes all books that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”


According to Schivone, the Mexican American Studies program came under fire for perceived social splintering, when it was actually beneficial to a diverse group of students. Schivone said the state saw students of all races experience higher graduation rates and academic success.  “Students who did take the classes were more likely to graduate, regardless of their race or ethnicity,” explained Schivone.


Montero and Stone hosted a similar event in November of 2012, when Libro-Traficantes leader and author Tony Diaz spoke on behalf of the movement to end censorship in Arizona. Diaz headed the caravan to smuggle banned books back into the state, which the author creatively coined “wet books.” Tonight’s presentation will focus on sharing information as well as spreading it.


“We want to gather video information to use as video training,” said Schivone. “We want to inform our community about what local communities in the cities we visited are facing—education crises, various injustices, austerity, the closing of schools,” Schivone went on, “There’s a lot of terrible things going on, but in all of the cities we’ve visited, there’s vibrant resistance.”


Tonight’s event will allow reps from UNIDOS to speak, beginning at 7pm. They will use a Power Point to guide the presentation, with ample time for audience feedback following their portion of the night. “We want to do a half-and-half kind of thing where we give our story and then open it up and ask people to share their stories with us,” said Schivone.


Casa Borrega is now open four nights week (Wednesday-Saturday) including happy hour from 5pm-7pm everyday. Next Sunday, check out their authentic Mexican brunch from 10am-2pm. 

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