by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza Rising Prejudice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
There were special sections at the movie theater for Negroes and Mexicans. In town, parents did not want their children going to the same schools with Mexicans. (11.42)
Yep. Unfortunately, way back in the 1930s, segregation was still totally legal in the United States. Wrong? Sure. But legal. While it's something we talk about as if it were distant history, folks like Esperanza had to live it.
"Has a Mexican girl ever been chosen Queen of May?" she asked Josefina.
Josefina's face took on a disappointed look and she silently shook her head no. "I have asked. They always find a way to choose a blonde, blue-eyed queen." (13.11)
The knowledge that sweet little Isabel won't get to be Queen even though she's earned the highest grades, just because she isn't white and blonde, is just plain ridiculous. And totally infuriating. And isn't that precisely the point? The more we react with emotional disgust, the more we see how unfair and cruel the dominant prejudices were—especially when they impacted children.
"There is always a reason. That is the way it is," said Josefina. "Melina told me that last year the Japanese girl had the best marks in the third grade and still they did not choose her." (13.13)
This example reminds us yet again that Mexicans weren't the only ones to suffer from prejudice in the 1930s. Discrimination applied to pretty much anyone who wasn't white. Unfortunately, things will only get worse for the Japanese community, as many of them will be placed in internment camps during World War II.