The autobiographical story told by Luis J. Rodriguez in his book “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” has been regarded as a masterfully written, trustworthy and honest book. It has received unanimous critical acclaim. The reason for this high appraisal is that the book is an intimate story of life of a person from ghetto. The author reveals the truth about ghetto gangs and their inner world, the reasons for their organization and the participation of the youth in their cruel activity. However, the main aim set by Luis J. Rodriguez is not to inform society about gangs and ghettos, for everyone is aware of the ugly truth. He aims at something deeper; he has no intention to provoke a sensation in order to get profit, his first consideration is to make society be able to see that “gangs are not alien powers” (Rodriguez 250). They are something we create on our own, as the result of societal indifference towards people who are not like we are. The worst thing is that the author sees that the teachers are people who maintain inequality by their prejudiced attitude towards Latino students.
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Luis J. Rodriguez emphasizes the fact that there is high level of separation among students at American schools due according to the level of education. In order to show this the author states that “the professional-class kids were provided with college-preparatory classes; the blue collar students were pushed into ‘industrial arts’” (Rodriguez). This segmentation of the learners is simply outrageous. It may be considered as one of the key factors of the inequality in American society. This division of the students bears a strong resemblance to the algorithm. The Latino students are already doomed to failure in life by their teachers who mesmerize them and prepare them for the low level of life without higher education and any prospects of making a successful career.
One more difference in the treatment of Latino students in the US schools that was revealed by the author of the book is that white students were intentionally grouped into “A” classes. It was evident that other students, mostly Mexican were grouped in the “C” classes. What is more, the common name for those classes was “stupid classes” (Rodrigues 83). By leaving things to their own devices and by remaining aside the situation schools authorities provoked and aggravated racial prejudices in society. It may be effectively proved by the following idea of the Rodriguez: “The teachers and administrators were overwhelmingly Anglo and whether they were aware or not, favored white students” (Rodrigues 84). The racial prejudices and injustice fostered by the school contributed to the intensification of hostility outside the school.
Finally, the third difference in the attitude of the school to Latin students in comparison with white students was that the first had no access to social life of the school. Thus, students were separated in all spheres of life and study. Latino students had no opportunity to demonstrate and develop their knowledge; moreover, they were deprived of the ways of developing their personal traits of character and talents. This may be shown by the following quotation: “Only a few of these students participated in school government, in sports, or in the various clubs” (Rodriguez 83). It is evident that it was extremely difficult for a Latino student to become a cheerleader or a school president. However, there were a lot of talented young people among the unprivileged layer of students. This may be shown by the example of the author, who had played saxophone but had no opportunity to realize his potential.
Drawing a conclusion, it may be stated that Rodriguez managed to show the discrimination between students of different social and racial origins successfully. It was very painful to realize that major discrimination and abuse was provoked and supported by educators. Rodriguez wanted to show that the primary task of a teacher is equal imparting of knowledge to students and teaching moral values using teachers’ personal example.
Rodriguez, Luis J. Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. 1st ed. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 1993.