Wednesday, February 29, 2012
by Dazia Ratliff
Washington Prep High School
Women of Color in the U.S.
I picked this passage because I'm sure most girls can relate to this story. Most boys call out to girls like "Aye, girl/shawty let me get your number," or they will start to whistle to you just to get the girls attention. i strongly feel that if men, or boys learn how to treat and respect women then maybe the ladies will go and talk to them. It's called RESPECT, they always the first one or really quick to call us out our name, for example like a "b****" or a "h**"or something negative. But, they get upset when we decide to call them a jerk or something and walk away when we feel like we are being, what i call DISRESPECTED. I think in order for them to get RESPECT from us they have to show us RESPECT first. I don't think that's too much to ask for. Sometimes men decide that they can either hit you or you can do whatever they tell you to do... I feel that's disrespecting women as well if you put your hands on them. Its so easy for somebody to say"oh what did you do" and they think that we made him hit us. I dont think that's right. Men should respect us in order for them to get respect back.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As the first bell rings, we are aggressively corralled into our classes like animals or inmates. Once in class we are constantly told to, “ just pass our classes.” If “just passing our classes” is the message here, then there is no way that we are being prepared to become students at a four-year university. As I pause to think about how hard the Chicano Civil Rights activists fought to counter this type of treatment, I am sadden that we, people of color, continue to have to climb the highest hurdles in this society.
AB-540 students, like myself, are a particularly vulnerable population in this dysfunctional education system because it is completely legal to discriminate us. Two years ago, my councilor, Ms. Mason-Lockett, scheduled me into the most challenging courses available at my school. By the end of my junior year she took notice of how easily I excelled and began summoning me out of class to help me chart my path to college. I remember, she once turned to me with uncharacteristic excitement and proclaimed, “Janeth, you’re not just ready to go to college, you have the grades to go to a top UC!.” She, then turn her computer screen towards me and point out all my A’s and B’s. It was her exaggerated enthusiasm that caught me off guard. Ms. Mason-Lockett is infamous for her standoffish demeanor. I became excited too! She would paint me beautiful pictures where UC Berkeley or UC Davis were just waiting for me to step onto their campus. All of this was very flattering and made me feel good about myself. Without hesitation she invited me to be part of her new program for academically gifted students. Everything was going great until she asked me for my social security number and I informed her I didn’t have one. She would never again summon me in to her office or try to help me step on to that road to college, she once had assured me I was destined for. I never imagined that discrimination could be such a painful mix of sadness, anger, and powerlessness. From one moment to the next my legal status had some how rendered all of my years in gifted programs, hard earned certificates, and other accomplishments non-existent.
As the realities of being an undocumented set in, I was shaken to my core. My very loving and inspirational parents run a modest nopales (edible cactus) business that is just enough for the family to survive on. Every evening, our family cuts, cleans, and packages them into small plastic bags. I know my parents often worry about the cost of my college education, but in my opinion, the hard working ethics and values, they have instilled in my sister and I have made us unstoppable. I became so agitated by being marginalized that I was moved to action. I joined my schools peer college councilors program to try to educate myself on how to get to college and help others. Not long after I started telling people I was undocumented and determined to go to college, I found out my friend Liz Soria was also undocumented and together we formed AB-540 Crew. We are a new club on campus that advocates and fights for equality through our AB-540 awareness workshops. We have presented to our PTA, students, and even conducted a Cash-For-College workshop.My advocacy work on behalf of AB-540 has forever changed the lens I see through. It is difficult to put into words the feelings that come over me each time I see military recruiters targeting my fellow peers. I’ve learned to recognize that look in their eyes when they know they’ve spotted an unsecure senior who doesn’t have top grades and isn’t sure what to do after high school. From my point of view, they look like hungry lions hunting for meat. They lure students with false promises and use our hopes and dreams against us. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard them say, “if you join the army, you’ll be able to buy your mom a house,” or “you’re a smart one, it won’t be to long before you become a general and be above all soldiers.” I know these are lies because most soldiers are so poor they qualify for food stamps. Although Latinos are over represented on the frontlines, we are underrepresented as officers in all the armed services. Beyond quoting statics, I know the military lies to youth because I have witnessed it within my own family. My cousin, David, was aggressively recruited and was proud to join the marines after high school. I am sure David could have never imagined that serving in the marines would lead him into a severe depression brought on by Post-traumatic Stress Disorder that would eventually become grounds to discharge him and label him mentally unstable.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Students in LAUSD are not expected nor encouraged to attend four year universities- this is evident in the classes offered. Our classes are not preparing us to attend universities. In my high school, at representative from a local community college comes several times a week to help prospect students enroll, I'm not saying this is a bad thing but why don't representatives from universities come onto our campus? I've notice that AP classes in our district are extremely limited while students attending public schools in other districts are offered a wide variety of advanced college- prep classes. We are capable of taking rigorous college- prep courses but how can we exhibit our full potential if we are not given the opportunity or encouraged to do so?