Let’s be clear first. The girl who got the full ride to UT did NOT steal it from anyone. Mexicans, or any minority for that matter, are not stealing jobs, college acceptances, scholarships, housing, money, assistance… nothing. Many U.S. (white) Americans feel entitled to everything and when they do not get something because they simply did not work as hard as the minority who “stole” it, they believe that it was handed to the other person. The reality is that we have worked, and have had to work, twice as hard to get the same thing. In Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, in the premier of season 3, Papa Pope (my favorite character, by the way) reminds Olivia about one little, but very important thing. In the midst of a scandal — no pun intended but that’s basically why the show is called Scandal — Papa Pope asks Olivia to repeat what he has always told her: “We have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have”.
The movie Stand and Deliver by Ramón Menéndez (1988) is about the true story of teacher Jaime Escalante and his Mexican-American/Chicano students who take an AP Calculus course and have to work on the material every single day for hours. All of them end up passing the AP test. Because of that and similar errors on the test, the testing agency believes they cheated. Their solution? Make the students confess that they cheated. At the end, the students retake the exam, everyone passing but, if I remember correctly, some had lower scores than before. This is a prime example of minority students having to work twice as hard for their accomplishments to count.
Any person of color will be able to identify with these examples. We have had to work twice as hard as any white counterpart. And if you are a female of color, well, just imagine how much harder we have to work.
I was furious when I watched the video. And then I realized that it is, sadly, a very common stereotype not only for Mexicans but also for other Latinos and African Americans. If the examples on the video were not enough to make people realize that we are, in fact, smart too, then I will provide another example: me. Not just me, but the many people like me who are going to top colleges in the nation, who are on their way of achieving their American Dream, who have had to work for it.
I am not usually one to necessarily call myself smart. I think I am one of those people who love to learn and know new things. I work hard, but not necessarily in physical labor like the guy said on the video. But anyway, I’m going to use myself for this example since, well, I do know myself the most.
I had the highest grades in all of my pre-K through 12. When I graduated elementary school, I was given the certificate for the student who throughout all of the years kept the highest grades. In middle school, I graduated as valedictorian. I was accepted into one of the top public high schools in the city and, although I was not able to attend for personal reasons explained in a previous post, I was still admitted. I also graduated Valedictorian and as a Texas Distinguished Scholar for my high school, receiving the “Outstanding Young Woman” award from the school district, a part of the National Honor Society, a Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship Recipient, and a Gates Millennium Scholar.
Now, I have finished my second year at Smith College and today I found out that I made it on the Dean’s List for the second year in a row. This means that I have been in the top 25% of the WHOLE student body for two years now. And, I am not the only Latina who is in this list.
I know many Latinx students and other students of color who have made the Dean’s List throughout the years and who are doing amazing things. The point is, I am only one of many students of color who are smart, hard working, amazing people. We are not a stereotype. We will continue to put all of our hearts, minds, and soul into our goals. And comments like those of the reporter will not bring us down.
-- Karen Banda
Originally posted on Banda's Adventures: From the Barrio, to the Bachelor's, and Beyond