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Latino history in Orange County

June 25, 2007

Re "What Mr. Cross didn't teach us," Opinion, June 21

I had a different experience than Gustavo Arellano attending Atwater Avenue Elementary School in the early '60s. My sixth-grade teacher was knowledgeable about California history, especially the Mexican/Spanish heritage. She informed us about the colonial period, the American conquest and occupation and the present-day situation of Mexican Americans. She thought it was best for us to know the whole story. She taught us the basics of Spanish, and to this day I am obsessed with improving my already good Spanish skills.

I don't know what the emotional effect was on the Mexican kids in the class. That was a different era, and nobody talked about such things, that I remember. Later, I married a woman born in Mexico; we have two daughters. I mentioned to my grown daughter one day that California used to be part of Mexico, and she was totally surprised. Evidently, they still don't teach history in the high schools.




When race has played a role in important historical events, it's a crime to cover it up. Here we have a bit of positive change in our country that grew out of our own little county, so why hide it? Who knows what the motives of the Huntington Beach parade organizers were, and who cares? They have the opportunity to share a bit of little-known Orange County history with the community but would prefer to gloss it over or exclude it completely.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is just par for the course in these days of villainizing Latinos in the name of gaining votes or simply passing blame for society's ills. It's far easier to cover ones eyes or jump up and down and shout "criminal!" at any brown people you see than it is to have a reasonable discussion of the history behind this kind of thinking. Hopefully folks like Arellano can be heard above the fray.



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