By JAZUI MEJIA
The Golden State has secrets about its dark and racist history.
When people think of California, they think of beaches, movie stars and a culture of freedom. What many do not know is that not everything was golden as the state presents itself to be. Similar to protests in the southern United States, in California there were battles against racism, with a case focused on racism in schools.
It all started when Soledad Vidaurri went to the Westminster school district to enroll her children and nephews in school. Vidaurri was surprised when she was told that her children, who were part French, could stay at the “White” school, but that her nephews had to go to the “Mexican school.” This Mexican school did not provide a suitable learning environment for its students since the school was poorly funded. That was what inspired Gonzalo Mendez to begin a fight that became known as the case of Mendez v. Westminster.
The display “California: Image and reality” shows California’s past with photos at the exhibition “For All The Children” at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. (La Plaza Photo)
This case was presented in the exhibition “For All Children” at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. This exhibit actually used a picture of a Redlands that exudes a sort of sunny paradise as the “expectation” of California. Alternatively, it used a picture of very young children working at an orange grove as the “reality.”
Many young people do not know about this important case. Lizbeth Moran, a native Spanish speaker at Redlands High School, who went on the native speakers’ field trip to Los Angeles said, “Seeing how our community was treated back then opened my eyes because thinking of being treated that way myself pains me. It hurts to see educational spaces avoid talking about this case.”
Spanish speaking students from Redlands High School and Citrus Valley High School observe the exhibition “For All The Children” at The Museum of Tolerance. (ETHAN DEWRI / La Plaza Photo)
Moran said, “When I saw Redlands as an example of a false reality or paradise, I was in shock because I never thought that Redlands could be used that way.”
The case of Méndez v. Westminster is something extraordinary that students in California, especially Latinx students, must learn in educational spaces. To break the chains of racism, we must begin with education. Knowledge is power.
Lea este artículo en español aquí: https://laplaza.press/2020/02/12/la-exhibicion-“para-todos-los-ninos”-ensena-la-realidad-del-estado-de-california-y-su-sistema-educativo