I am the proud daughter and granddaughter of migrant workers. I have danced Ballet Folkorico (Mexican Folk Dance) all of my life and am fascinated by its beauty, but with that I can also appreciate the brilliance that was Fred Astaire, the iconic American dancer.

My ancestors were Aztecs and my tio-abuelo (great-uncle), Catarino Cantu, served in the U.S. Army where he fought in the Korean War. My name is Marisa Perez-Diaz and I am honored to be Mexican American, but let’s make something very clear: I am an American nonetheless.

Over the last four years, I have proudly served on the Texas State Board of Education, representing from San Antonio down to the upper Rio Grande Valley. I proudly represent over five million Texas children in our public education system. They rely on my colleagues and I to make decisions that support their intellectual growth and development. To me, it doesn’t matter if their last name is Villarreal, Jones, Wright, Yun or Patel – I represent every child in our Texas public schools, and it is exactly for this reason, that we are here today having this conversation.

I am angry. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect someone to present a textbook so deceitful, hateful and quite frankly, academically insulting as what Momentum Instruction has presented. What’s more alarming is the fact that the leader of Momentum Instruction, Cynthia Dunbar, is a former State Board of Education Member, who saw an opportunity to slap this community in the face, by publicly sharing her political manifesto, guised as instructional material.

This discussion is not a zero-sum game. The efforts of the Mexican American Studies class is intended to augment and diversify the learning opportunity of Texas students by providing additional materials and courses aimed at nurturing education. The State Board of Education and anyone else who deals in the Texas educational system should strive to do this in a respectful, inclusive, and truthful manner.

Serving on the State Board of Education for several years has been tough work, filled with battles that may be lost at times and many instances of disagreement among the Board, but I have never felt more disrespected than when one of our own Board Members took a position in support of this book – not because they truly believe in it, but rather purely out of spite.

The Member was quoted saying “It’s really kind of amusing. The left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists, having pounded the table for special treatment, get approval for a special course that nobody else wanted. Now they don’t like their special textbook?’  In a follow-up interview, he said “I’m going to give them what they asked for. They wanted a course, and they wanted special treatment.”

But I don’t see any radicals. I see passionate, educated individuals awaiting quality instructional materials on a topic that is as American as apple pie and Topo Chico.

It is disgusting and heartbreaking to see an elected official who does not sit in their elected office responsibly, and instead votes out of spite and not decency or academic growth. Unfortunately, it’s evident that they do not serve or believe that they represent all Texas children. They only represent those deemed American enough.

Let’s hope that the children of Texas – all of them – have the opportunity to read about their history, their parents, grandparents, ancestors in respectful, honest and academically responsible manner. History is not always pretty, but in order to understand who we are as a country today, it is absolutely imperative that we are know how we got here, recognize those that contributed, and acknowledge when we’ve undergone tremendous struggle, disgrace and shame.

The legitimacy of this adoption process lies on the shoulders of inclusion. Calling for subject matter experts is monumental in the development of any product which was clearly not done in this instance.

As a mother, the mere existence of a textbook like this, and the possibility that it would make it into a classroom and into the hands and young minds enrages me. My daughter will know where she came from; she will know our family’s struggles and what we have contributed to this country, and she will wear her beautiful brown skin proudly as she claims her Mexican/Cuban-Americanism because she will know that the Mexican American experience is so much more than just Mariachis and tacos.

It is my sincere hope that my other State Board of Education colleagues view this textbook and vote in its negation.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by State Board of Education Marisa Perez-Diaz on Friday, September 9, at a news conference in San Antonio alongside the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The news conference was held to address what Perez-Diaz and the SAHCC view as “academic flaws and serious racial prejudice” in the proposed Mexican-American Studies textbook titled “Mexican American Heritage.” A public hearing will be held on the textbook in Austin on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.