Stand and Deliver

   Ramon Mendez, Cuban filmmaker, created the movie Stand and Deliver in 1988. It’s based on a true story about a math teacher, Jaime Escalate, who is played by the real life teacher, Sir Edward James Olmos, who teaches a group of students Calculus and prepares them for the AP exam.  However, the journey is not easy.

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   Garfield High School is located in East Los Angeles and as many of us know or have heard it isn’t necessarily the nicest part of Los Angeles. Right from the beginning of the movie we see how the high school doesn’t have the resources,like qualified teachers or equipment, that other  schools do. Just in the opening scene we can see that Mr.Escalante is suppose to to teach computer science but because the school doesn’t have the money for computers they make him a basic math teacher. He comes to realize that his student have “ganas”, will, to study beyond basic math so he begins to teach Algebra and later requests to teach Calculus.

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   Three specific students in the movie  stand out to me. Frank Garcia, who wants to have his name pronounced in English instead of in Spanish but Mr.Escalate says it in Spanish anyway. In the video “A Conversation with Latinos On Race” one gentleman talks about being light skinned with green eyes and people treating him as if he was white but as soon as he gives his name he can’t even get one phone call back. It’s sad to see that latinos want to make their names more white so that they won’t be judged or discriminated. But what saddens me most is that we live in a time period where that shouldn’t even matter anymore. Where whether your last name is Garcia,Hernandez, or Perez you should still be treated like a human being. This also brings up another problem: not identifying yourself with your culture. Being Mexican American can be hard because you really don’t feel a part of one group or the other, “No de aquí, ni de allá”.

   Claudia, she is considered the most attractive girl in class who is always dating someone one. When Mr.Escalate asks parents to sign the student’s class contracts Claudia’s mom wonder why she even wants to be in school. She thinks it’s in excuse for her to stay late and then tells her boys don’t like it when you’re smarter. This shows how woman are placed in position where they are  suppose to be dumb and only meant to look pretty. Demonstrating  how women have to continue to show that they can be independent and not depend on a man.

   Anita, she is one of the smartest kids in class yet her father want to take her out of school so she can help with the family business. Here we see the struggle that many latino families face: not being able to give their kids an education because of money problems. Many stop receiving an education for lack of opportunities. Anita’s father also argues that in the long run all that will happens is that she will become pregnant and not even continue her education, college. Once more we see that women are viewed as people who don’t ever finish or accomplish something. That we are always going around having children. As if women couldn’t raise kids and be a professional.

   In the article “This is What White Privilege is” it says “white privilege isn’t asked for but it’s also not earned”, this a perfect example of what takes place at the end of the movie. The students are accused of cheating because they all missed the same questions. So they are asked to take the exam one more time. But Mr.Escalante says “if this was Beverly Hills you would even be questioning the results”. Now it’s not the students at Beverly Hills fault they live and go to school in a nice neighborhood or that they have the resources to get an education but the same goes for the student in Mr.Escalates class. It’s not their fault they come from low income families with barely an education. One thing is certain that because these kids were brown and had Latino last names they were called cheaters.

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2 comments

  1. You selected my favorite movie of all time. Growing up this movie inspired my love for math. As a Hispanic myself I’m quite familiar with the demands and expectations that are placed on us by our parents and society as a whole. I too am like the light skinned colored eyed gentleman described in the video, “A Conversation with Latinos On Race”. On the exterior people often mistake me for being white so I tend to strike up conversations with others quite easily. However, when I’m with my parents I notice a change in behavior from those same people. Mr. Escalante reminds me of my father. My dad was born in Mexico and was adamant that his children grasp the concept of math. My brother and I were often told that people would judge us by the color of our skin and encouraged us to work twice as hard on our schoolwork. That being said, my father enrolled us in summer school every year since the third grade despite us having passed the previous school year with flying colors. He wanted to retain the information learned during the school year and not have to start from scratch the next school year. My brother and I learned to love school and are forever grateful that our father instilled the importance of education just as Mr. Escalante did with his students. We may watch Stand and Deliver this week.

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  2. I think I might have seen this movie before but only parts of it. The part that I can connect to is that Latinos try to make their names more “white”. I have several friends that pronounce their name in an English accent because they don’t like for others to think they are from Mexico. For them being from Mexico meant that you were poor and uneducated. It’s pretty sad that people are ashamed of their names and origin. Nobody should feel this way. I would like to see this movie, it shows a reality that is hard to believe can happen.

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