“The US Mexican border es una herida abierta where the third world grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms, hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country- a border culture.”
Una herida abierta… an open wound
With the Latino population rapidly growing in the Fort a new border culture emerges in these Borderlands. In time, some have posited, the Fort may well be predominantly Latino, Spanish speaking, and if current trends continue-mostly poor.
A concern now openly expressed is that the Fort’s public schools, which Latinos predominantly attend, are not providing the education necessary for us to succeed in the workforce, much less participate in any meaningful way in the public forum or elections. Why generations of Latinos living in the Fort have not received a sound public school education is the subject of much debate. What is beyond debate is the outcome–a population of citizens that has been marginalized with very little opportunity for any advancement.
“Mining Minds,” symbolized by the iron pick on the outskirts of UTEP’s campus, speaks to the success that is possible if we have the will to change outcomes. In the background, across the border, is a spectre of what is possible if education and meaningful opportunities remain mainly non-existent. But, there is nothing inherent in being Latino that impedes attaining an education or advancement. Today this university on the border, whose student body is majority Latino is a top-tier doctoral university with very high research activity.
Likewise, public schools in El Paso are predominantly Latino and routinely outperform the public schools in the Fort. The failure of our schools in the Fort is not a Latino problem, it is a school district problem, and it is our problem.
We have a choice to make. We can continue to debate the causes of the abysmal failure to provide Latinos in the Fort with a good education, or we can apply a frontier sensibility informing the border culture that seeks solutions now. We cannot allow generations of Latinos to continue to be marginalized by the failure of our schools to provide a good education. Whether this is intended or not, this is undeniably the outcome.
Providing Latinos with a sound education can be done. Brilliant Latino minds are being mined all across these Borderlands. We must do the same here, which starts with ensuring Latinos receive a sound public education. Latinos do not represent a threat to the Fort’s future or success; we are a vast resource essential to its future that is being wasted. Frontier sensibility tells us that we cannot allow this to continue. We can’t just keep talking about it. It’s high time we fixed it.