To the editors:
(Re: "Three Teachers Talking," by Elizabeth Blanchard, January 22.)
This travesty passing for journalism, though it may have provided the obligatory sexual buzz one expects when reading hot dirt about minorities, nevertheless is a powerful example of what Eugene Miller of the Miami Herald denounces as an insidious practice gaining popularity in the print medium.
He sees the use of anonymous sources as "an invitation to exaggerate, embroider, embellish, slant. Or take the cheap shot. This is true for the reporter, as well as the source."
Fairness dictates that you should consider printing my brief rebuttal to the claimed absolutes found in the Puerto Rican community by a trio of vipers. Namely, that Latins are devoid of moral fiber, ambition, culture, or brain cells.
"Patrick" would have known, if he merely asked, that the term "Anglo" as used by Hispanics is not a euphemism for white people. Spaniards are white, yet we'd never make the mistake of calling them Anglos. The term refers to people either of English ancestry or who have embraced our Anglo-based culture as their only culture. To further muddy the waters, if "Patrick" were to review the video The History of White People, he'd discover that the dominant culture seriously (and only half in jest) questions whether his ancestors were, in fact, "white."
Doesn't he feel any cognitive dissonance when he claims that Latins teaching other Latins is a formula for disaster, knowing that Cubans were educated by other Latins, yet most have become, by anybody's criteria, American success stories?
Regarding his antipathy for Spanish speakers, if people should abandon their mother tongue in favor of the dominant culture idiom, I must assume that all of his ancestors adopted Indian dialects upon getting off the raft. (All American blacks speak English, hence they all must be rich, right?)
As to the claim by the trio that all Puerto Ricans are incestuous and don't care to attain jobs (therefore must be on welfare), I can't find any studies available as to the incest rates in the Hispanic community, but I did find several for the mainstream American community. Before they again extrapolate America's favorite hobby to the Latin community, they really should wait until there are more published data available.
Welfare? Of the caseloads for Aid to Families With Dependent Children in Illinois in 1987, 9.6 percent were Hispanic, versus 28.7 percent mainstream white (Sun-Times, 2/11/87). This indicates to me that there are a hell of a lot of Latinos out there who have jobs. Nonexistent Puerto Rican fathers? The 1980 census found that 72 percent of Puerto Rican households were headed by a man. Uncultured? Anthropologists tell us that every child in the world who speaks a language inherits its concomitant culture. Most Hispanic-Americans are bilingual and bicultural. That's one more culture than "Patrick" has got. Stupid? There are no data as to how many Hispanics earn a GED certificate after dropping out of high school, but we do know from the census that, as of 1982, one in every four Hispanics has attained at least one year of college, leading me to believe that we do have some familiarity with American literature and the behavior of the "Patricks" of this great land.
Our three educators' views make for a strong case for the theory that no amount of education can alter bigotry once the basic unit of personality has been warped.
R.C. Robertiello states in The Wasp Mystique (1987), "Wasps have the usual amount of prejudice towards Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Poles, Italians, Irish." Since that about covers more than 90 percent of Chicago's residents, I suggest that we are living in the village of the damned, and should cast our stones with more care. We're not so much a racist city, as we are a conglomerate of ethnics chafing under the slot on the totem pole assigned to us by the majority population.
I was schooled in a northwest suburb, where teachers aren't obsessed with striking and entertaining the populace with the tired old hit "The Days of Whine and Rows," and my Spanish and biculturalism were never an issue. My salary for 1987 was $37,914. Had I been exposed to the three neurotic harlequins of the article, I'd probably be a maitre d' for the local McDonald's.
I'm not Puerto Rican, but as a Hispanic I resent having my Latin brothers constantly trashed and scapegoated.
Elizabeth Blanchard replies:
Thank you for your thoughtful and provocative letter. I believe that anonymous sources should be used only with great care and discretion. But since the article hinged upon the opinions of those interviewed and not a disputed fact, the identity of the teachers was not as important as that they be allowed to speak freely, without self-censorship or fear of reprisal.