21 October 2009
The Struggle for the Chicano
“Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado.” Was once said by Emiliano Zapata, which means I’d rather die on my feet than live a life on my knees. This quote has often served as an inspiration to many Mexican and Mexican-Americans throughout history. Several times this quote has been brought to a reality in the struggle for the equal human rights among Chicanos. In this paper I will be illustrating the unfair opportunity at life that Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans were given by the United States. Three major themes that persisted throughout the early history of Chicanos were poor education, police brutality, and harsh labor. These three ideas are enough to keep any minority at a low level in society. It is stated in the declaration of independence of the United States; “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Obviously this was not the case for Chicanos in the United States between the years of 1848-1960. Having the right to earn an education is a privilege that not many countries still have today. Education may be the most important skill to earn in a lifetime, it can bring you nothing but positive knowledge that can be put to use. In the United States it is a huge privilege to have free public schooling for all children. Although all children are welcome to go to school, they were all not equally benefited. School class rooms were segregated due to the racial tension that was held in those times. It is said that “the pretexts for excluding Mexicans from white schools were that Mexicans were ill-clad, unclean, and immoral; interracial contact would lead to other relationships.” These racial stereotypes are what drove the whites to exclude colored children into their children’s classrooms. Mexican children attended segregated schools which were led by ill-prepared white teachers. While white children were taught in the newer school classrooms, the school board assigned the old classrooms to Mexican children. “Racial stereotypes allowed school boards to track Mexican students in vocational education programs. School districts rationalized that intellectually slower students should be removed from the “normal” population and tracked. Hence, a high percentage of Mexican students were being placed in classes for slow learners or the mentally retarded.” Mexican children were given a test to show where they stand in their education. The problem is the test was written in English, so of course the Mexican children would automatically fail the test. This is what led to the placement of Mexican children in mentally retarded classes. Other methods of keeping the Mexican students at a low standard were by placing them in classes where the standards are very low. So basically the students were learning how to flunk tests and act dumb to Anglo teachers. This ties into the book Rain of Gold when Lupe goes back to school but this time in the United Sates. Lupe is placed in the third grade even though she is about to become fourteen years old. She is made fun of by all the smaller children because she is much older than they are. Then later in the story Lupe is crying due to her teacher screaming and harassing her. The teacher yells at her “You dirty little Mexican Prick tease! Who do you you’re kidding? You’re too old to be in school!” of course Lupe is destroyed inside by the insults of this teacher. Just another way the racial segregation took effect in the school system. The Mexican population was impacted very negatively by this unfair educational system. Anybody would be disappointed if their child did not receive the same treatment as others. One demonstration that took place against the segregation of students was in 1910 against the San Angelo school board. Mexican parents boycotted, they wanted their children to share the buildings along...
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