“A Class Apart” Open Thread – Share your thoughts about the documentary!

February 26th, 2009 · 12 Comments

If you did not get to watch “A Class Apart” on the tube earlier this week, you can watch it from your computer here (thank you PBS). I was able to watch it via the internet, and I enjoyed it. I was struck by how little the Supreme Court knew about the Mexican-American community in the southwest, but that should come as no surprise given how we have been marginalized throughout history. I also was impressed with how the local community in San Antonio and the surrounding areas donated to the legal team to assist in this fight for legal standing.

I was glad that the documentary pointed out how land that was owned by Mexicans and descendants of Spanish explorers was taken, which expedited their slide into a lower status. Their way of life changed within a few generations and with the implementation of Jim Crow style segregation. Even today when visiting where my family comes from in the Southwest, I notice that the cemeteries are segregated by looking at the names in burial plots.

In viewing the film, I also reflected on how much more progress we still need to make as a community. Here we had this legal team, who was willing to put their livelihoods and personal lives on the line, yet as Seneca has pointed out, we are still rather reluctant to engage in litigation to advance our rights. And this legal team was truly grassroots, funded by the local LULAC chapters and community. I did not notice any corporate sponsors funding their fight, which you see a lot of today with our civil rights organizations.

Please share your thoughts in this blog post.

Tags: Civil Rights · community organizing and activism · Latino History · LULAC · racism · Supreme Court

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 india blanca // Feb 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I found the documentary to be very informative….which I believe it is the main goal of a long form historic piece as A Class Apart….as a Latina I was saddened to realize that such a brilliant and valuable human being as Gus Garcia did not find an effective support system to help him deal with his disease…it is really an unspeakable tragedy that this man died alone on a park bench in his forties…Alcoholism is a cancer that afflicts many of our brothers and sisters, most of the time the root-causes are unattended psychological issues…at times the brightest are the most sensitive and the ones to develop addictions….as far as the essence of the documentary, we should demand equal time for our historic data not only from the media but also from our educational system….it is time that we lobby to be included in the curriculum of public schools nationwide and in the textbooks that impart the information that mold awareness and inspire the new generations

  • 2 YolandaR // Feb 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Where is this critically important truth represented in our schools–k-12, college, law? With beleaguered tear-filled eyes I watched this PBS show. CBS, CNN, TNT, ABC, NBC couldn’t show it. Well they couldn’t because Lou Dobbs illegal alien rant would be shortened. Then again I forgot the major media outlets couldn’t preempt the last photo-op of the two Slumdog Millionaire children 10 yrs under age, departure for home after a trip to the Oscars at the Kodak Theater and Disneyland. Too busy pimping those babies to broadcast the Class documentary. Even on PBS the time of night made it less likely that a large number of school children would see it. But it is Black History Month so I called the Congressional Black Caucus Office, who don’t hesitate begging my friends and me for caucus donations. I wanted to know why they did not promote the Class documentary on their website or through the mailings. The response—but first know that I also called Loretta Sanchez’s office as I wanted to know if she hopped off of her motorcycle just long enough to view A Class Apart. Now for both offices responses: Both thought I was calling about the new stimulus package and said the next bill smaller classes apart from the mainstream might happen. WHAT???? We must lobby for Latina/os and other related historical data to be included in the curricula. Not as a special set-aside class or department but infused in the curricula in every education system is a must.

  • 3 Anna // Feb 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Re: ” we are still rather reluctant to engage in litigation to advance our rights.”

    I disagree. I don’t think most of us are even aware of our own legal history. These cases are not taught in school and we don’t see anything about them on TV, so the assumption is that we don’t use the courts to fight for our rights. Before the internet, had you heard of Mendez v Westminster? Perez v Sharp?

    I agree that we need to be incorporated into American history. Our own scholars need to do it.

  • 4 YolandaR // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Anna~When did our scholars stop sharing our history?
    I tire off pointing fingers at our own scholars and refuse debating with you by naming cases. As an African American female who attended an African American (AA) K-12 school, even earned my Bachelor of Science at an Historically Black University, A-A scholars taught me the historical battles, victories and accomplishments of my race. From them I learned the love and pride I breathe that nourishes me in this country. While earning my Masters and Doctorate in predominantly white institutions, it was there I realized whites had not heard of my peoples’ accomplishments.
    So please don’t tell me that our scholars have not done it.
    Its time for you to stop the class divisive ideology that delays our advancement as people of color.

  • 5 YolandaR // Feb 27, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    One other point: We must hold our In Office For Eternity
    Politicians accountable for nourishing our educational system! That is required…

  • 6 Reyfeo // Feb 28, 2009 at 7:14 am

    CNN has been airing a piece “Black In America”…I think they started this from when Barack was runing for president.

    I say this because I want to point out the fact “A Class Apart” didn’t run on CNN (or ABC, NBC or CBS for that matter) shows how “black” and “white” America really is. There never is any in between. Today, the president is Black, not American Latino. To date most of our books are filled with Black history (with an occasional sprinkle of Latino surnames). We always seem to be the foe not the friend of America in the history books (can you say Villa, Santa Anna, and more recently Chavez)

    My biggest complaint (not with the good work that aired on PBS) is that there isn’t enough American Latino (like Black American) history in our books. And I know I am going to sound insensitive, but all to often we ride the coat tails of the great work the Black American has done to not ride in back of buses, disegragate, and aquire civil rights. We all aren’t farm workers (referring to Cesar Chavez outstanding work for workers rights). There is no American Latino civil rights leader, atleast not one that stands out (or who isnt having affairs to degrade his standing as a leader).

    Again, “A Class Apart” was a good piece, but it shows we (American Latinos) are hangin our hats on a case which ended in trajedy…where are the good ending cases? Also, I would liked to have seen it in the major stations…I don’t hear any American Latino uproar for the lack of education, funding and equal rights for the American Latino. Who’s leading that charge, MALDEF (insert very sarcastic expressin here followed by a very big chuckle!!)?

  • 7 Anna // Feb 28, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Re: “And I know I am going to sound insensitive, but all to often we ride the coat tails…”

    That’s media propaganda. We set the legal precedents for some of the landmark Civil Rights cases, such as Loving v Virginia, but our history is different. We had legal rights, and have had full citizenship and voting rights since 1847, but suffered from de facto discrimination.

    I agree that we need leadership, but not leadership that just mimics what somebody else has done. We need strategies that reflect our own experience and history. I think the culture needs to change, but that’s just me.

    I know this is politically incorrect, but how was Obama raised? By white people in Hawaii, which is a white/Asian state.

    To me, a culture is either successful, or unsuccessful. That’s it. For instance how do many Latinos cope with stress? Food and alcohol, which just creates new problems. So much crime is committed when people are under the influence of alcohol!

    Other people with better coping strategies do yoga, go to therapy, exercise, write, paint, etc.

    When the Spanish conqered Mexico, they cut off the past. What other group of people only has 500 years of history? We’re taught that we have no connection to anything before the Spanish came. That’s it’s “pre-Hispanic.” That’s ridiculous. We have thousands of years of history on this continent, and gave the world corn and chocolate, amd I’m sure much more that we don’t know about, but we have been brainwashed to think of ourselves as “immigrants” and “aliens.” And riding on the coattails of people who were brought here in in chains. Come on, get real.

    Turn off the TV Reyfeo. lol

  • 8 Pete Gonzalez // Mar 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Anna, marry me. Kidding aside I agree with your comments about changing the culture. But it is easy to say stop drinking and reaching for food for mechanisms of coping with stress. Frustrations lead to escape and these aforementioned things are escapes. I say find meaning in life.

    We do have a history that gives us meaning. We have a proud history of accomplishment. Our corn help many tribal communities survive and thrive in North America.

    I do agree with some of what Reyfeo says. We are marginalized in the media and, unfortunately, many self-images and perceptions are driven by the power of the media. But we cannot rely on the media to teach us who we are. The media is inconsequential when it comes to establishing our positive self-identity.

  • 9 Anna // Mar 1, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I agree with your comments. This might sound “out there” but I really think that more people need to go to therapy. Therapy isn’t just for crazy people, but for people who want to overcome whatever is blocking them from living a higher quality of life. Often people are held back by negative a belief system and an inability to cope with emotions (fear, stress, anger, shame). Depression is just anger turned inward. Successful people have generally mastered their emotions and know how to work through them. Why not talk with an educated person and get a new perspective.

  • 10 Fiesta Freddy // Mar 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I think we are very well represented in states like California as far as education goes. We have forced the entire state into a bilingual culture. Call any major company and they pander to us with press “2” for espanol. We have grown our own sub-culture in an unbelievable way and with it forced many of our latino brothers and sisters into an entitlement mentality that will haunt us for decades.

  • 11 Anna // Mar 1, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Nobody has been forced into an entitlement mentality. They either don’t know any better, or they choose to have one because they feel hopeless. People need to change the way they think. That’s where is starts.

    I don’t think Press 2 for Spanish has anything to do with it.

    Look how many of us there are. Spending most of our money at Latino owned businesses, especially now with the economy so bad, is one way we can help each other. Successful ethnic groups circulate their money.

  • 12 Reyfeo // Mar 2, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks PG…that’s all I was trying to say, that we tend be/are “marginlized”.

    Anna, why must your reaction to everything and or anything anyone says be so harsh and ridiculous.

    Also, I liked the work done on this, and was just pointing out we are way behind our black american bretheren when it comes to making political headway etc.

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