As we launch our web site, it is important to realize that it will take more than for all of us becoming instant Tejano historians. There are more pieces to the puzzle that we need to solve. As such, we offer the following three main aspects of our task:
a. In the 1960s, the large and omnipresent Spanish Mexican community in the Southwest was referred to as “The Sleeping Giant”. The powerful giant was supposedly awakening to finally seize its own destiny in the educational, social, political, and economic arenas. Like town criers, many activist leaders of the time blended their vibrant, exuberant voices to lead the rest of us in a Spanish Mexican renaissance in the Southwest. There was so much hope. Sadly, most of us did not heed their calling. As a group, we never quite fully awoke and still find ourselves in a kind of slumber. As a result, our children are still dropping out of school in alarming numbers. Plus, there are problems with gangs, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and other risky behaviors that we still need to tackle and defeat. The situation is sobering. We are still a “class apart”. In other words, progress has been ever so slow in all the key areas mentioned above. There is a lot of work to do, which brings us to the next aspect.
b. It is said that much of President Bill Clinton’s success in the 1990s rested in the simple slogan “It’s the economy, stupid!” It is attributed to James Carville. If we are to make headway in our grass-roots cause, we must borrow from Mr. Carville’s creation and give it our own spin; “It’s the Education, stupid!” Spanish Mexican children are just as smart as any other group. They must be convinced that staying in school is the answer to a successful career. It is the only key that will open the doors to their dreams. Parents, teachers, community, and religious leaders all have a role and will make it happen if they try. This brings us to aspect “c” below.
c. Spanish-surnamed citizens in Texas are expected to again be the majority in the next few years. Will they be up to the challenge? The answer is yes, if we all follow our “It’s the Education, stupid!” banner and march together. There is no time to waste. We must attack the problem head-on now. In that sense, this web site will join other Tejano web sites already on-line to keep the ball rolling. Our need to share information of our long-lost Spanish American history is urgent. Each of us knows a little about something; some of us know a lot about some things; but, together, we will know all there is to know about a lot of things. The time to blame others and the time to whine is over. As Tejanos Unidos, we can do it if we try.
We have a great story to tell. Let’s share it with everyone. Our brave ancestors are not immigrants to the U.S. Neither were they brought here against their will. They came here as the first pioneers and settlers. It is time to rediscover Texas’ Spanish Mexican roots.
The more that Tejano descendants learn of their lost history and key role of their ancestors in building this great place we call Texas, the higher their self-esteem and sense of pride. Hopefully, that will motivate them to stay in school and become productive members of society. Likewise, the more that others learn about pre-1836 Texas history, the more they will see that “Texas history without Tejanas and Tejanos is like a story with no beginning.”
Finally, it is our sincere hope that the rediscovery of the contributions of our Spanish Mexican ancestors in U.S. history, will result in the following challenges:
One last word on a "Class Apart”…
“In the end, Hernandez vs. Texas was about trying to bring justice to a distinct class of multiracial Americans who did not fit neatly into our traditional and rigid black-white model – a people who were and still are a class apart.”
(Source: Raul Yzaguirre, Arizona State University, SA Express-News, Feb 23, 2009)
The question that faces us today is this: Has the promise of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the civil rights of citizens of Spanish Mexican descent been realized? In our view, not exactly. That may be the reason why Mr. Yzaguirre chose to end his article with the words “…and still are a class apart.” Sadly, there are grim reminders that confirm his contention.
Through the education system of the 1960s, the “Class Apart” was supposed to get organized and finally get out of the vicious cycle they found themselves in. That did not happen. However, at about the same time, other minority groups did get organized and demanded fairer treatment. Today, they have made great strides in areas of employment and political power and it shows. But now about 60 years later, the “Class Apart” has lagged behind. Why?
Let’s look at the following factors:
While there are more Hispanics in professional business, there are very few Hispanic CEOs.
While the Hispanic population continues to grow, completion of high school by young Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans in the Southwest, dismally lags behind the norm. Half are dropouts!
While the military services include many Hispanics, most of them are found in the lower ranks.
While many South Texans have moved to the upper part of the state in search of a better life, why does South Texas still remind many visitors of a “Third World Country” in health, housing (colonias), and per capita areas?
While the availability of health care is better than ever, Hispanics in South Texas continue to have high infant mortality rates. The areas of high school dropouts, drug abuse, delinquency, teen pregnancies, and other risky behaviors continue to sky rocket.
So, why haven’t things changed that dramatically in the long period of over 50 years? What has not happened? Or better yet, what have we not done to ensure success? The challenge continues to be: How can we finally realize the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court?
Clearly, the answers are within the "Class Apart”. Quite simply, there are two related answers: the family and education. Parents need to get to work immediately if they don’t want to wait another 50 years.
There is no doubt that some of us in the “Class Apart” have become part of mainstream society. However, we are far from reaching our potential. There is still much work to do. Beginning in the year 2020, Spanish-surnamed Texans are expected to again take over the majority in the state. What can we do to prepare for this awesome responsibility? The main question is: Are we prepared today to assume the lead? Are we up to the challenge?
What can parents do? They need to raise their children with a set of values that will translate into success. They need to become involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. The following suggestions can get parents started:
(l) First and foremost, be good role models to your children. You may not know it, but they watch your every move. Set a good example for them.
(2) Education is the key. Enroll your children in pre-kinder school. Make sure that they read every day. Make sure they learn English and learn it well.
(3) Instill in them the value of hard work, discipline, sacrifice, and pride in their heritage.
(4) Start saving money for college – involve the children.
(5) Reward good performance in school. Keep open communication with your children’s school and teachers. Support school activities.
(6) Involve the children in wholesome sports activities. Help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
(7) Get involved in your community. No more excuses; make time to get involved!
(8) Hold your government representatives accountable.
(9) Speak out on issues that concern you. Write letters to the newspaper, radio, and TV and express your views on issues of the day.
(10) Teach your children the difference between right and wrong. Help them to resist peer pressure. Listen, listen, listen to your children. Always let them know you’re there for them.
In closing, the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Hernandez v Texas opened the door for the “Class Apart”. The door is still wide open.