Immigration demonstrations across the country may have been making headlines the past two days, but the issue takes on a greater meaning when you’re faced with it every day, as TMAO, the blogger at Teaching In The 408, explains:
More than 80% of my students (and our school) are Latino, and even higher percentage is composed of immigrants or the children of immigrants...Ask the kids, and they’ll tell you a variety of things that you, from your lofty perch, will dismiss as ill-informed: Schwarzenegger hates Mexicans, nobody wants Mexicans in this country, they’re trying to send everyone back...They’ll tell you they all know somebody who was sent back. Most returned. Ask the kids, and you find out that it’s not as simple as undocumented or not. Families do not come in single-flavor varieties. Mom has a visa, dad is undocumented and so is older brother, kid + younger brother were born here. Extrapolate from there.
You like that the kids are taking interest in the realities of a world apart from bad hip-hop and myspace. You like that they are developing political instincts and possess the sense that they have power here. You like a willingness to stand up to perceived wrongs.
You don’t like kids draped in Mexican flags mugging for attention on the side of streets. You don’t like the lack of information or the lurking sense that providing it will make you seem in conflict with families, and that’s never such a good thing. You don’t like that this exercise in political will tends to energize the other side of the debate, those that never would have cared until they saw images of 500,000 people who don’t look like them marching in the streets of Los Angeles. You don’t like the prospect of teaching to less than full classrooms.
There’s a lot to be said for that old phrase about the personal being political.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.