March 19, 2006

Lefty advocacy in film -- surprise!

I haven't yet seen "Walkout," the HBO film that details the "true story of a 1968 Chicano student uprising in the Latino barrio high schools." But there seems to be some inconsistencies in the history it offers, and some key omissions.

Edward James Olmos, the "driving force" behind the film (and star of the hit show "Battlestar Galactica," natch) has always been an advocate for Latino issues; however, he lost my sympathetic impulses when I saw him once on the Univision "Oprah"-like talk show "Cristina" where he said he was a big supporter of "Aztlán." (Mildly funny was the fact that he got just a bare smattering of applause when he stated such -- a good sign.)

Eugene Volokh links to a Cathy Seipp piece that reveals some untold tidbits associated with the film's told history (emphasis mine):

As it happens, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the state’s anti-bilingual backlash, which began when Skid Row activist and Episcopal priest Alice Callaghan organized about 100 Spanish-speaking parents who wanted their Ninth Street Elementary children to learn English in class.

In the film, spunky 17-year-old heroine Paula Crisostomo, now an administrator at Occidental College, has a friend and fellow protester named Vickie, who (at the end we learn) grew up to be Victoria Castro, L.A. school board member from 1993 to 1997 and board president in 1998. The film doesn’t mention that after Castro refused to help those frustrated Ninth Street parents, they staged a walkout of their own, an incident that inspired Ron Unz to back Prop. 227 two years later....

There are some interesting remarks in the Volokh comment section. For instance, a reader points out from Seipp's article that the "hero" of the film was irked that school counselors wanted Latino (Chicano) kids to take French:

“No, ma’am, here you go,” snapped [high school history teacher and hero of Walkout Sal] Castro in response. “That’s the problem — counselors in our school were programming kids to learn French. What Mexican family can help their kid with French homework?”

How many [Anglo-]American families can help their kids with such homework? Ah, the bigotry of low expectations.

Geez, if anything, the study of another [foreign] language would only assist Chicano students not only with their developing English skills but their native Spanish, as well. My study of Spanish over the years has given me insights into my native English that I'd never otherwise have; in addition, it makes the study of an additional language (particularly another Romance language) that much easier (I've studied a small bit of French).

Hey -- and I was actually able to make many connections with the spoken Latin when I saw "The Passion" a couple years ago!

Posted by Hube at March 19, 2006 10:04 AM | TrackBack

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