No matter how ridiculous it may seem, but even today, two absolutely different public institutions – public schools and jails – are competing for government attention. And oddly enough, the prisons can be declared as the fair winners. Now, what are the reasons behind these unpleasant results? Does racism have to do anything with it? What place does racism have in our community? What is the reason behind major Black homelessness? These are some questions this paper will answer, using statement from Cesar Chavez. This writing piece is to highlight the mighty impact racism has on one of the richest states, i.e. California.
Were public educational institutes always a less priority to the Government? Fortunately, or unfortunately, they were not. Foreign correspondent (Gumbel 2019) tells The Guardian, “California once had one of the best funded, most envied public education systems in the United States”. In the 1960s and early 70s, public schools got much more attention by the government than what they do now. Back then, five cents out of every dollar of personal income were spent on schools. Now, the amount of personal income spent has dropped to a little more than three cents, and will continue to decrease if the same strategy follows. But what is the real culprit for this sudden lack of interest? It seems to be a certain pattern to it.
Back then, dominating the public schools were the children of Caucasians belonging to wealthy suburban communities. But now it is the children of minorities and low-incomed people that mostly go to public schools. And they? Apparently, they do not have any rights to have proper funding for their education. On the other hand, jails and prisons are well fared by the government, which might make it seem that now, according to the pattern, prisons should be dominated by whites to be well funded. But no. Prisons too are dominated by minorities. So, to be get recognition, children of these minorities must commit crimes? Are they destined for prisons? It seems so!
Evidently, racism has everything to do with this sudden drop of attention towards public schools. Cesar Chavez argues, “We have looked into the future and the future is ours! Asians and Hispanics and African Americans are the future in California. That trend cannot be stopped. It is inevitable”. Chavez emphasizes the major role played by minorities of the California in its future. He tries to bring to spotlight the truth that minor ethnicities in California, i.e. Asians, African Americans, Latinos etc., are the state’s future. And keeping them underprivileged is to make our future underprivileged.
In 2002, a federal law, No Child Left Behind Act came into action. It was to raise educational achievements for everyone without any racial or ethnical boundaries. The intentions were to focus on raising the standards of each and every school and institution. But even this law could not bring the solution to California’s educational inequity. As stated by (Darling‐Hammond 2007), the complications in implementation of the law, instead of achieving the goals, provoked a lot of unintentional frequently harming consequences, affecting the ones it was meant to help the most. Such as narrowed curriculum, inappropriate assessment of English language learners and students with special needs, and focus on low-level skills. She further states, “In addition, the law fails to address the pressing problems of unequal educational resources across schools serving wealthy and poor children and the shortage of well‐prepared teachers in high‐need schools. A policy that would live up to the law’s name would need to address these issues and reshape the law’s requirements to enable the use of assessments and school improvement strategies that support higher‐quality teaching and learning”. Even after this major act, the problem still persists, and race determines the standard of education a person gets.
USA is a country with multiculturism; a noticeable amount of different people (racially/ethnically) reside within. “When you say ‘America’ you refer to the territory stretching between the icecaps of the two poles. So, to hell with your barriers and frontier guards!” (Diego Riveria, San Francisco 1931). Especially California is home to various ethnicities. Asians, Hispanics, African Americans and as well as the whites. In accordance with Census carried out in 2018, it is estimated that approximately 60% Whites (out of which, only 63% are Hispanic Whites) populate the big state of California. The rest is completed by 14.7% Asians (such as Chinese, Pakistanis, Indians, Philippinos, Koreans, Japanese), 5.8% African Americans, 0.8% Local Americans (Red Americans) and a small rate of a few Other Races. Still, racism is majorly affecting the 40-45% of colored people’s lives in more than one aspects; other than education. Concurring to Library of Congress, Chinese foreigners have been put into inconvenience, and damaged upon in many towns of California, and they had no trust for offered assistance from the law whatsoever. Since 2016, a more than fifty percent increase in hate crimes against Latinos/Hispanics have been witnessed in California and California alone (Hinojosa 2018). The issue of homelessness goes mostly against the Afro-American population in Los Angeles, and is majorly contributed by racism.
Many families arrived in L.A. as part of the Second Great Migration of African Americans from the South, who were seeking for a better life. At that time, housing discrimination prevailed, and African American families were only allowed to live in specific neighborhoods in the South of Los Angeles, and the practice of redlining did not allow home loans to the residing ones in these areas. Therefore, three-fourths of Los Angeles’ Dark-skinned population had to live only in about twenty neighborhoods in South of LA, thus making it a blooming center for Afro-American culture in 1970. But as per a report in the Times, a decade that saw increased outsourcing of manufacturing jobs emaciated the area in the 1980s. After that, the arrival of Hispanics up raised the cost and standard of living in the area, consequently pushing Afro-American residents to the more towards South Bay areas, and even outside of Los Angeles County altogether. Today, rates of homelessness among California’s population of Latinx, whites, and Asian and Pacific Islanders don’t even reach the littlest to those of Black residents. Neighboring the Downtown of Los Angeles, Skid Row is a small town, but has a whole new world in it. Also known as “homeless capital of the United States”, it consists of two-thirds of African American homeless and mentally ill/drug addict population, drawn to the area by social services that have been on purpose transferred from other parts of the city.
Thus, all questions answered, it is not hard to figure out that most of the problems faced by the minorities (non-whites) in California are deep-rooted in racism. Racism has a major role in the current circumstances of the state; let it be the unpleasant results of the competition between prisons and public schools; let it be lack of standard of education for Hispanics; let it be major Afro-American homelessness; let it be hate crimes and violence against certain ethnicities. And that is so ridiculous. How can the mere amount of melanin present in your skin determine your status in this world? How can the ones with ABSENCE of color be superior to the ones RICH in color? Should not it be the other way around? Ethically, it should not be any way around. No amount of cells in a body can put anyone above others. Besides, this colored population of California is our asset. Mistreating them, keeping them away from quality education and resources is equivalent to mistreating and disrupting the future. Another important thing to be considered is the way mentally ill and disabled people are treated in smaller and poor areas (especially the colored people). It is horrible. They are arrested for not being normal. They are beaten up for acting weird and silly. They are abused for not being able and okay. These people are not disabled… They are special! They require equal rights and special care and protection. And accepting everyone as equal, providing them with equal opportunities, and staying united will definitely turn our “Unprivileged Future” to a privileged and a successful one!