Luis teachers to conform his identity. He constantly

 

Luis
Valdez’s play written in 1969, No Saco
Nada de la Escuela, portrays the cultural power the United States’
education system has on students. This play focuses on six distinct students
who are very unique in personality and culture; and studies on how they
interact with each other and their bias teachers. Francisco, is a
Mexican-American student who takes great pride of his Chicano culture and never
allows any of his teachers to conform his identity. He constantly strives to
educate himself in college, like other Chicanos but college professors repeatedly
denied him. Towards the ending of the play, Francisco shares his desire to educate
his Chicano community. He tells his people, “Estamos en colegio. Hay que aprender
de nuestra cultura, nuestra raza, de Aztlan” (p.39). Moctezuma is also a
Mexican-American student but has no regard or appreciation for his culture
after the education system attacked him. In his college report his professor gives
him feedback and says, “I want you to remember one thing. I want you always to move
forward, move forward in that great American tradition” (p.33). Esperanza is
also a girl who was insecure and did not affiliate herself with her
Mexican-American heritage. However, when she was in college, she changes her attitude
and perspective and helps Francisco with his mission to educate Chicanos like
him. Malcom is a Black American student who knows a plentiful amount of his
culture and is actively engaged in his community. He joins the Black Panther
Party in order to fight for equality for his community. Florence, is a sweet
White-American girl who is innocent and unaware of the prejudices that occur
around her. By the time she was in college, Florence was aware of the cultural
prejudices that she was so oblivious to previously and took her guilt to help and
defend minority students. Lastly, Abraham is a stereotypical White-American racist
redneck who discriminates and bothers other classmates. Throughout the play, it
is evident the privileges he attains from being white, especially from his teachers.
These teachers were distinctive in educational careers however, they did embody
the same prejudice identities, thus the matching white masks.

–         
Dehumanization: The innumerable amounts of racism
and abuse minority students receive, gradually disintegrates their own
identities. The education system is responsible for forced assimilation, or
more specifically white acculturation. They take students of diverse cultures
and strip them of their heritage and conform them to follow American traditions.
For instance, in the beginning of the play the grade school teacher would incorrectly
call Malcolm, Willie and would ignore his corrections, demonstrating she has no
respect for him. Similarly, she would harass Moctezuma and Francisco in order to
change their names to something simple and common, Monty and Franky. Monty is
an example of a students that the education system successfully transformed and
stripped of his own identity. He is constantly striving to please his teachers,
treated like a dog, and accepted his new name and white bag from Nixon. In his
final report he says, “A is for American. B is for beautiful. And C is for country,
like God Bless this beautiful American country!” (p.19). Following his
statement, the teacher rewards him like a dog with a dog biscuit.

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–         
White
Superiority: Not
only were the minority students discriminated, but they were continuously told
how much “better” white people were and were given privileges. Teachers
repeatedly praised Abraham and his family even though he was very racist to his
classmates. For instance, after Abraham said “kill” and pointed at Malcom,
Francisco and Monty, the teacher shared, “Class! Did you all know that Abraham
here was named after one of our most famous presidents? Mr. Abraham Lincoln –
the man who freed the slaves!” (p.6). In addition, during the graduation, Nixon
made several remarks regarding the superior white race. Esperanza denied
Nixon’s white bag and he replied, “But you can’t exist in our society without
me” (p.37). He believes minorities are nonexistent without having a white
leader like him. He also mentions, “I shall now take my students, student… into
the great white world. Right Face! Forward March!” (p.38). Again, Nixon is
describing that the world they live in now is great because it is ruled by the
white race.

 

–         
Prejudice: Students pertaining to minority
groups were continuously mistreated and believed to have a lack knowledge by all
their teachers, simply because they had a distinct heritage and spoke Spanish. Francisco,
a Chicano who only spoke Spanish in grade school, was punished for not speaking
English. She insulted and beat him while forcing him to change his name to a more
common English name, Franky. After meeting and abusing Francisco, she
mentioned, “They shouldn’t place these culturally deprived kids with the normal
children. No, no, no” (p.11). Likewise, in high school, Francisco was proud of
his heritage and culture and therefore presented his report in Spanish and the
teacher commanded him to leave because he did not understand. Francisco
replied, “When I was small, I didn’t understand English, and you kept flunking
me and flunking me instead of teaching me” (p. 20). He was successfully
demonstrating his teacher how he felt in the past, misunderstood. The teachers
were different due to their educational careers however they were identical
otherwise, discriminating minorities. For that reason, the teachers all wore white
masks.

Luis
Valdez’s play, No Saco Nada de la Escuela,
is a production that displays the ongoing racial oppression and forced
assimilation present in the United States’ education system through six
distinct students. Students of minority groups are mistreated by teachers and
white students who consider themselves “better”.

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