A Week in the Life of Gustavo

"Seems to think that if he fails to write, la migra will find him."--OC Weekly More merriment available at ronmaydon@yahoo.com

sábado, fevereiro 22, 2003

A letter from Nativo Lopez...


Second, for a public nature, your second to the last article made mention about my record as a school board member and the quality of education of the SAUSD. I have attached a speech I was prepared to make at the last board meeting of the SAUSD, but was not allowed to deliver the same by Superintendent Mijares, and therefore, it has been sent out as a commentary to many newspapers and email networks. It establishes in summary format the conditions which I found when I first joined the school board in December, 1996. I had only been on the school board for six years. It's not possible to change the conditions accumulated over decades in a mere six years. It just does not happen in this life or any other. Nevertheless, the accomplishments scored in the brief period of six years, in anyone's estimation, is quite impressive, notwithstanding the many things yet to do. The system was truly broken, and continues to have many and great deficiencies, and obstacles to change. The road to change is never straight nor easy, but we made a excellent start. I would measure our accomplishments to any other public school system of comparable size, demographics, poverty, etc.

Lastly, you have made mention on at least two occasions about Nativo's "race-baiting." For the record, I have never made a public speech or written anything that could be construed as race-baiting. My worldview is not one based on race and my struggle is not one based on the replacement of one race over another with respect to political or economic power. This has never been my outlook and no one can demonstrate otherwise. Yes, I raise the issue of racism, both individual and institutional because it is an obvious obstacle to the social advancement of Latinos in the United States. Can anyone deny this? I have described the Apartheid-type conditions that existed in the SAUSD when I was first elected. Are we to ignore these conditions or address them head-on, put the issue on the table for examination and resolution, or pretend that racism does not exist? Yes, this is a difficult disease to examine, and by asking the tuff question I am accused of race-baiting by the purveyors and perpetrators of racism, and by others that get uncomfortable by the issue and discussion. Who can deny that racism is part of the very institutional fabric of our society, which exist as a social obstacle to Latino advancement at all levels of leadership in society? Latinos now constitute more than 30 percent of the population of Orange County, for example, yet do you know what percentage we constitute of the political leadership of this county, the managerial leadership of this county (city and county government, boards of education, water boards, commissions, etc.), the educational leadership of this county (professors and administrators in all colleges and universities, students, etc.), business leadership of the county, information leadership of the county (electronic and print), etc., etc., etc.

Well, Gustavo, I dare ask the question, put the issue in front of us on the table for examination, and seek to struggle to find equitable solutions to these endemic problems - and I run the risk of being accused of race-baiting. And I do so by uniting with progressive whites, Blacks, Asians, and other Latinos of like mind. It's not a race struggle that will bring justice to our people, and all working people, but a class struggle, and our class is multinational, multi-ethnic, multilingual, gay and straight, of all creeds and of no creed.

You may be referring to a dispute I had at one time with Rosamarie Avila regarding her origin and reference to her Latina heritage, but do not be fooled by the discussion that transpired. The real reference was in relation to opportunism displayed by her on the issue. Rosemarie Avila never made reference to such heritage previously until it became politically convenient and expedient for obvious political reasons. Heretofore, she had demonstrated a clear dislike for anything smacking of a language other than English, eurocentric history or Christian Coalition ideology relative to government and politics. My criticism of her was for opportunism not for her claim to Hispanic heritage.

My response...

First off, I'd like to apologize for the lateness of my reply. In addition for writing for the Weekly, I am a full-time graduate student at UCLA and thus am swamped. I wanted to take time to reply to your letter thoughtfully.


In regards to my accusations of your race-baiting...the quotes of yourself and John Palacio towards Rosemarie Avila appeared as if each of you were trying to define what a "true" Latin@ is and concluded that Avila definitely wasn't. If this is not race-baiting, then it is definitely an unwarranted attempt on your behalf to define what makes a particular ethnicity. We both know race doesn't exist (though its ramifications do, as you point out) and that ethnicity is fluid. For you to say that Avila isn't Latina because of her conservative politics keeps us more shackled than any govermental oppression ever can. Anyone can be Latino if they so please; they don't need a certain blood quota. Perhaps this wasn't your attempt, but this is how I construed your comments towards Avila.

Please know, Nativo, that I nor the Weekly have nothing against you, no grand conspiracy. The only reason I did the articles on you was to tell the truth. So when you had that fundraiser on Dec. 12, I told the truth. When I wrote how our Latino-elected officials are ingrates for not publicly supporting you, I told the truth. When I recommended that voters vote against the recall despite my reservations about your record, I told the truth. As a journalist, this is my obligation and drive--to tell the truth. I do not belong to anyone, either progressives or the status quo. My politics are avowdly leftist, but this doesn't preclude me from criticizing my allies. All in the name of keeping our mission pure from the corruption upon which our opposition thrives.

That said, you have a friend here at the Weekly. Keep either myself or Nick Schou informed of any wrongdoings in Santa Ana, especially with Rob Richardson, Miguel Pulido, et al. But also keep in mind that if you do something wrong, I will report it. It is my duty, and I hope you respect that.


Gustavo Arellano

PS: In the last public response you had to my article, you claimed I never wrote anything about the fight to obtain drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. Although I didn't write something for the Weekly, I did write a piece for Pacific News Service last year that was translated for publication in La Opinion.

But I have to study more...