In 2015, activists demanded that Texas schools add a class on Mexican-American studies to their curriculum. The board of education agreed, but the textbook selected for the class, “Mexican American Heritage,” is pissing off a lot of people. Why?
The proposed textbook for the to-be-added Mexican-American studies course is offensive and written by white people.
“Instead of a text that is respectful of the Mexican-American history, we have a book poorly written, racist, and prepared by non-experts,” Tony Diaz, director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-North Harris, told the Houston Chronicle.
But how offensive is it? Here are some actual quotes from the book paired with some GIFs I felt were appropriate:
OK, fine. I completely made THAT one up, but you get the picture.
In all seriousness, I grew up in Texas and never once took a class on Mexican-American heritage. (We did learn about the white man’s eventual triumph over the demonistic Mexicans in seventh great, so that’s cool!) So, while it’s great to see this course finally hit the curriculum, it’s sad to see a book this fraught with inaccuracies and bias get serious consideration for the classroom. The best way to fight ignorance and social stigmas is through education, and this kind of textbook has no place in any school, anywhere. But then again, it’s Texas we’re talking about, so I guess f**k me for expecting better from my own state.
How’d she get there? Let’s start at the beginning. Martinez was a hyperactive kid who had too much energy for her hardworking parents, who each worked two jobs to support Martinez and her two siblings.
While in the program, Martinez’s coaches realized she wasn’t great at sprinting. But she could run for a long time. That’s when Martinez, who says she was tough to beat when playing “tag” at school, became a distance runner.
Martinez says her parents couldn’t afford nice running shoes when she was a kid, so now she donates shoes to those in need.
“I remember when I was young and my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a new pair of running shoes,” wrote Martinez on Instagram. “The shoes I wore to school were the same shoes I wore to practice. My father would always try to find running shoes on the clearance rack. I’m donating back to the sport that gave me a fighting chance in the world.”
After standout performances in high school, Martinez went on to have an impressive career at UC Riverside, where she would be named All-American three times.
It was also where she met her husband (and trainer) Carlos Handler, a former UC Riverside running star.
After college, Martinez dreamed of making an Olympic team. Her dream was put on hold when two Olympic development teams rejected her.
Without a team to support her, Martinez wondered if she would have to give up on the sport she loved. “There were days when, I don’t want to say I was depressed, but I was crying a lot,” Martinez told Runner’s World.
Without a coach or a team, Martinez and her husband, Carlos Handler, contemplated their next move. Handler decided to give up his running career to pay the rent.
Martinez’s husband attributes her determination to her upbringing. He told the OC Register that growing up without much money made her tougher: “I just think the environment she comes from doesn’t allow her to quit, she doesn’t know when to give up. She just keeps pushing through it.”
Martinez, who runs a running camp for high school girls, says that her desire to inspire young Latina runners also gives her an edge.