By Aranza Lara
This year in my IB English class, we started off the year discussing a crucial topic: race. We are currently reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me”, an autobiographical account of Coates’ experience growing up in Baltimore and how he comes to learn that all aspects of American society put black people at a disadvantage and endanger their lives. Reading and discussing this book is absolutely critical as it covers a subject that is extremely prevalent in American society. It is unfair, however, that the topic of race in our curriculum is being isolated into the perspective that there is only a divide between blacks and whites in America.
We have had various discussions about the hardships that black people face in the streets and how they are chastised by institutions like schools and the police force. We have read and examined famous texts by black icons like Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X, but not once has the issue of Latinos or any other minority in the U.S been discussed or even mentioned in my class. I wondered if I was the only person who noticed this. When I looked around the room, I discerned that including myself, there were only two Latino’s in the class. Considering the political climate we live in today, we have failed to look deeper into the subject of race. Why is it that it is impossible for my non-Latino peers to distinguish a Mexican from a Nicaraguan? Why is it that not once in any of my classes at school have we discussed the fact that Latino children are being separated from their families? We have to start broadening our discussions about race, and start teachings and conversing about Latino history in our curriculum.
September 15th marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month, a month where the contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to American history and culture are recognized. I have only had conversations about the significance of this month with my Latino-peers. Last year during African American history month, there was controversy nation-wide over the fact that there is only one month of celebration and recognition of black history and culture, when it is indispensable to celebrate black history and culture constantly without a time frame. As this same notion should be applied to Hispanic Heritage month, there are too many people who fail to recognize the importance of the month or even that it has significance at all.
In school we should be taught about the struggles and achievements of the Hispanic and Latinx community the same way that we are taught about the struggles and achievements of blacks. We need to be taught about Latino icons in America like Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. We need to be taught about events like the Zoot Suit riots, where 200 sailors descended upon Los Angeles and severely beat numerous chicanos, stripping the suits from their bodies. We need to be taught about Mendez v. Westminster, where plaintiff, Sylvia Mendez, sued after being rejected from a “whites only” public school in California, paving the way for Brown V. Board of Education and playing a crucial role in the desegregation of public schools in America. We need to start to actually recognize and familiarize the BCC community with the immense impacts that Latinos and Hispanics have had in this nation
The Tattler, for the first time in four years, is proudly publishing content in Spanish. The first time articles were ever published in Spanish was when my sister, now a senior at NYU, founded and lead La Vida; the Tattler’s initial attempt to create a more culturally aware content to address a population that is often misrepresented and misunderstood at our school. As I attempt to unite and represent silenced voices of the Latinx community with my prose, I commit to continue the conversations of difference that tend to be seen as a dichotomy rather than looking in between the lines to see what lies in the gray areas, and how we need to talk about them.
Read this article in Spanish here.