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An Open Wound

The US Mexican border es una herida abierta where the third world grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms, it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country- a border culture.

Gloria Anzaldúa

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 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 are attended primarily by Latinos, 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. The subject of much debate is why generations of Latinos living in the Fort have not received a good public school education. What is beyond debate is the outcome–a population of citizens that has been marginalized with very little opportunity for any social advancement.

“Mining Minds” symbolized by the iron pick on the outskirts of UTEP’s campus, speaks to the success we can achieve 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. Today this university on the border, with a majority Latino student body, is a top-tier doctoral university and engages in very high research activity.

Likewise, public schools in El Paso, which are predominantly Latino, routinely outperform the public schools in the Fort. Nothing inherent about being Latino impedes us from attaining an education or social advancement. The failure of our schools in the Fort is not a Latino problem; it is a school district problem and 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. Alternatively, we can apply frontier sensibilities that inform our new border culture and 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.

Brilliant Latino minds are being mined across these Borderlands. We must do the same here and ensure 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 by being marginalized. Frontier sensibility tells us that we cannot allow this to continue. We can just keep talking about it or we can fix it. It’s high time we fixed it.