By Jesse Torrero
Part 1 of 2
In The Winter of 1974 I went to my first public school, L.A.U.S.D. Byrd Jr. High School in Sun Valley. The previous school I attended was a private school, Village Christian School, also in Sun Valley. The only differences in the schools were sports, dress code, religion, and population. I went to Byrd because I wanted to go to Poly High School, which was a powerhouse of sporting activity and a history of excellence at the time.
Back to Byrd in ‘74 in 9th grade in homeroom, the teacher gave us all a card to fill out with some very basic questions. What are you, and where did you come from?
I said I was American, and I came from Chicago, Il., which is all true.
A few days later, I was the only person in the class who got the card back all marked up in red ink, with a note, “Please give correct answers.” This was perplexing. I was also given a fresh card to fill out to hand in immediately. So, I wrote again in the other section to the questions, “What are you, and where did you come from?” I am a citizen of the United States of America, and I came from my mom and dad, which is all true. I gave it to the teacher.
Sure enough, a few days later I got that card back with even more red ink on it, and another card. And the teacher just looked at me like I was some smart alec, teenage criminal nut job. and she added a few words to it: “Stop being a smart-ass!” Again, I filled out the new card in the other section and put these answers to the questions: “What are you, and where did you come from?” I’m a Torrero, and came from God, which is all true.
Can you imagine now the stink I caused? It was like I was on the FBI’s most wanted list holding down the #1 SPOT. The next day I didn’t get pass the front gate as I was redirected, like water flowing through a flood channel, right into the principal’s office. He sat me down, looked at all my cards and said to me, “Jesse, we like you a lot here at Byrd. I know you came from Village Christian. You’re a good athlete, and get good grades. You do question everything, which does drive your teachers nuts, but I don’t think you are a smart mouthed kid. What we want here is what is your ethnic race” (a bewilderment reaction on my face), and where is your family from (a stare back that takes place in your eyes when something does not make sense in your head.) He continued, “I don’t think you understand exactly what your answers should be. So, take all of these cards and this new one home to your mom and she will help you fill it out correctly.” And that’s what I did.
I told mom the story. She said, “Lets fill it out.” She told me that all my answers were correct, but the school was looking for other answers for other reasons that later on in my life I will understand. Mom began to tell me I am Spanish-Italian-Mexican-Scottish-Irish-German-French. I responded, “Really? All those things? WOW!’You see, that never came up in my home or with anyone I knew. We were just all Americans. Mom, with her infinite wisdom said to me, “Well, we cannot lie. So, which one will benefit you in the future? Hmmmm. Yes. There it is. You are Mexican. Your dads mother came from Mexico of Spanish heritage, and his dad came from Spain with Italian heritage and a Spanish surname. The next day I handed the card to the principal saying, “I am Mexican with Spanish-Italian-Scottish-Irish-German-French heritage, I’m an American mutt!” That was the end of that…or was it? All of a sudden the next year, (In the late 70’s), at Poly High School, I was asked if I needed ESL (English Second Language) class.
Then the 80s hit and Reagan gave amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. I thought it was a real “slap in the face” to all those who came to this country the right way–legally. Then, this bi-ethnic concept started popping up everywhere. Gangs swelled. This concept of political correctness was created with a whole separate language and thinking. Homes in every neighborhood in the S.F. Valley started getting walled in with sharp tipped wrought iron fences and vicious barking dogs, (houses behind prison walls I called them). Fewer kids were playing in their neighborhoods out front. People lived on streets and knew no one, and that was ok. After all nobody had to become an American and learn English anymore. The criminals started getting more rights than law-abiding folks. Graffiti exploded. And massive amounts of corruption in government at all levels became visible while the multi-international corporations gutted this country’s manufacturing base for low wage slave workers in China and other places for profit. All the while, they were screwing the American worker, and they knew it, (so did their government paid off patsies), but lied to each and every one of us.
In the early 1970s our baby boomer generation was lead to believe that our country was not good enough…our country needed an overhaul…our country needed more fairness…our country needed to be fixed, that government needed to know everything thing. We were told that we had to represent to the government our ethnic blood line, not knowing we were putting a target on our back for government’s future use, or someone’s use! We were lead to believe that greed is good, and hedonistic ways were fun, along with drugs, and alcohol, free sex, and, as long as I am ok then you’re ok. What a great illusion and deception to hide what they were really up to, robbing and stealing the life, money, and future from all of us. Yes America was changing and it all was so very odd to me, even in my youth.
Editor’s Note: Jesse Torrero is a Community Activist, a Commentator for the NVR and can be reached at (818)800-1343, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/JesseTorreroBroker