American Education: Bigotry in the 1930’s*

by CJFosdick on May 14, 2009

The American Political Scene

Part 1

A major issue for years has been to teach the value and worth of all minorities in American schools. Education has been a tool used to free American life from the discrimination, bigotry, and mistrust of those different that ran so rampant the 1930s. The “N” word was used by virtually everyone then, even little old “grandma types with white hair,” who wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings for anything. No one then realized how hurtful that word is. The same is true for derogative words commonly used to define and describe other minorities such as Kike, Chink, Spick, and Dago. Blacks faced massive discrimination, not only in the south, but in the north as well, while profiling and stereotyping was built into the system. Schools then punished minorities, such as Mexicans and Indians, if they spoke their native languages and children of minorities were made to feel ashamed of their historical roots. In 1938, one sign in a grocery store in New Mexico read, “No dogs or Indians allowed.”  Another said, “No liquor sold to minors or Indians.” Mexican Americans were rounded up in large numbers and deported to Mexico. Those of Jewish faith often hid the fact they were Jewish for fear of persecution. Catholics were also disliked and distrusted. In fact, John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president to ever win election.  Since then, Catholics have flourished in the Halls of Congress and the Chambers of Justice, much to the benefit of the American political scene. It is great to be free today of the bigotry of the 1930s.

During the Great Depression, the definition of an unfit parent had more to do with that parent’s religion, ethnicity, or poverty, than with parents who treated their children badly. Charity workers would sometimes actually remove children from such environments and send these ‘orphans’ to the west to families who needed help on the farm, not even checking the conditions in the new home. Today, children are removed from a bad home life because of abuse or neglect by the parents, and a foster home has to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible to keep foster children.  However, overloaded courts and caseworkers often do not follow through and make sure the foster homes are indeed good.  There is still plenty of room for improvement today and American education has to step up.

There were no laws to protect the handicapped, and crippled people were often hidden in the home and had little chance of finding work or having a normal life. They tended to be among the rejects of society. Today there are protective laws, as well as programs set up, to actively help those with physical disabilities get educated, get jobs, and lead full, active, and worthwhile lives.

It is my opinion that it was the intermingling of minorities and handicapped that has made America the unique country it is today, and to know and study the history and contribution of each group needs to be emphasized even more than it is in American education. America’s strength can be seen in this conglomeration of peoples, all of whom get along surprisingly well, considering the struggles of the past to gain equality. Individuals from each group can and have gained the top echelon of status, respectability, and fame, more today than ever. Look at Barrack Obama, the first Black to be elected the greatest leader in the world. American education can help even more in leveling the sphere of equality for all. The American political scene should be proud of its accomplishments.

*For more about life in the 1930’s, read The Bjorngard Trilogy, by Carolyn J. Fosdick
The Other Son, Ripples in the Water, and I Ride a Wild Horse

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