LatinaLista — The Southern Education Foundation released a report last week, “A New Diverse Majority,” that found, that for the first time in history, more than half of all the students attending public schools in the 15 Southern states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia) are children of color — predominantly African American, Hispanic and Native American.
It’s not a fluke, a misread of the data or even a one-time scenario. It’s an early indication of what the U.S. Census has been forecasting — “By 2042, minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become the majority.”
Seeing that children of color are already the majority in these school districts, and others throughout the rest of the country, it makes what is happening with the Texas’ State Board of Education (SBOE) members voting (tomorrow January 13, 2010) to eliminate Cesar Chavez and all Hispanic historical figures from public school textbooks a sad commentary on just how blatant “white majority,” a.k.a. racism, is allowed to influence and dictate for the whole.
Though the “r” word (racism”) is seen by some as an excuse for one group of people to get their way, in this instance, there’s no other term that accurately describes the comments, as expressed by some SBOE members and their textbook committee review appointees, such as: “there is an over representation of minorities” in the current social studies standards” or that there is “too much emphasis on multiculturalism”.
To the rational thinker, these viewpoints are akin to how we see the Taliban impose their religious ideals in Afghanistan where they have essentially hijacked their country to conform to their religious definition. These SBOE board members, along with their appointees, who adhere to the perspective that it is repugnant to teach children about the historical contributions of Latinos and African Americans show they are no better, and given recent quotes attributed to some who were involved in setting the Social Studies standards, are essentially rewriting U.S. history to conform to their distorted views of how they wish to see the United States.
It’s a big deal for the rest of the country what this “small” group of people decides on what goes in the Social Studies textbooks. Texas is the largest purchaser of the textbooks which means those same textbooks will be reprinted, sold and distributed to most of the nation’s school districts.
In other words, it just won’t be Texas school children whose quality of education will plummet if Social Studies textbooks don’t include contributions of people of color but countless children in numerous states — states whose schools also have majority student bodies comprised of children of color.
The behavior and words of some of these SBOE board members and their like-minded appointees go beyond disturbing and evoke the term “extremists.”
The people on this committee who would like to paint the history of the United States as a country that was built solely on the contributions of white people is beyond ludicrous, but what can we expect from people who think like this:
Bill Ames, for instance, may have been speaking for the elected board’s majority when he tried to push through a standard on “American exceptionalism.” Depending on how it’s interpreted, exceptionalism can mean simply that the country, particularly its founders, did exceptional things. Or it can mean — in a definition endorsed by Ames in his treatise — that America is “not only unique but superior,” that its citizens are “a chosen people, divinely ordained to lead the world to betterment,” and that it is “not destined to rise and fall. Americans will escape ‘the laws of history’ which eventually cause the downfall of all great nations and empires.”
Ames failed to get such notions through the committee. “He believes we’re ordained by God to play this role. It’s like the modern version of Manifest Destiny, which gave us the conquering of the West, the slaughtering of the Indians and all that,” said Julio Noboa, a University of El Paso history professor who served alongside him on the history standards committee.
“He wanted a nice whitewashed view of American history, with no pimples. We said no. Students need to understand there are problems within the capitalist system … Politicians aren’t going to give our rights to us on a silver platter. Democracy is evolutionary.”
Obviously, Ames is bringing a religious component into the text selection process and as we’ve seen in the past, for a public school or general school population, such religious ideals are better left for those textbooks that specifically serve students in schools dedicated to those same religious ideals.
Unfortunately, this man Ames was not the only religious zealot to be appointed to the textbook selection committee. There were others and remarkably, for their Christian ideals that they espoused, they held very unChristian-like views when it came to minorities.
Yet, what is most disturbing is the level of influence of this small group of people who, because of their personal biases, have the power to keep all children from learning just how essential were the roles of people of color in the development of not only the state of Texas but the nation as well.
There is nothing to be gained by such an unAmerican tactic, other than to elevate the position of one particular group of people over another — We have come too far to revert to that way of thinking.
The United Farm Workers, understandably upset that the SBOE wants to eliminate mention of their founder, Cesar Chavez, from these school textbooks, has launched a campaign to counter this gross injustice.
But I have to ask where is NCLR, NALEO, MALDEF, etc. in expressing their outrage and condemnation of such an act? Where is that Latino leadership that seems to only make itself known in Washington?
This is not an incident that impacts just an isolated area; this impacts beyond the Lone Star State and the perceptions of countless children — who will learn that it’s better to be white than a person of color because white people accomplish more, according to history.