Respeto. The Mexican Americans across the country are marching in the streets in defense of Mexicans who have crossed the border illegally to work in the land of opportunity. Prevalent in this mass demonstration is the number of teenagers caught up in the excitement.

One of the issues that rears its logical head is how smart is it for Mexican American school kids, who as a group routinely have the poorest scholastic record and the highest drop out rate, to cut classes? But, that is not what causes my heart to sing. What is flowing from these young people is a recognition and respect for their ancianos, their abuelos, their paisanos, their countrymen.

It is not usually that way. Mexico is very class conscious.? The ricos in Mexico, the educated in Mexico, are not the ones helping the pobres who make the long journey.

I grew up in Las Cruces, N.M.?My county was 65 percent Spanish-speaking.?I have spent my life in agriculture in the company of Spanish speakers.?I speak it. I insisted that my daughter take Spanish in high school. I went to the first teacher's meeting that fall in Colorado. I was excited. The teacher was a young woman from San Antonio.?She would have called herself a chicana. Someone asked if the class would have field trips.?She replied that, "No," they had no money for that sort of thing.?There was a large community of farm workers in the area. I raised my hand and suggested we could invite a couple of them to class to talk to the students.?She turned on me like a biting dog, "They don't know how to speak proper Spanish!"

This pervasive prejudice within the Hispanic community rubs off on the children. Kids also have the tendency to want to fit in, to assimilate. I see it often. The immigrants don't speak English, their children are bilingual and the third generation Mexican-Americans don't speak Spanish. It has been their natural inclination to separate and distinguish themselves from the illegals crossing today. They have nothing in common.

But seeing them marching in the streets honors the sacrifice and humble beginnings of their grandparents; the men and women I have lived and worked with for years.?It is a moment to be cherished. I hope once the glamour and excitement dies down and they go back to school they will be better students. Nothing will make their abuelos more proud.

And, I hope that their newfound respect for the trabajadores will remain.?Respeto.

Ironically, in the meantime the Minutemen continue their vigil along the border to help protect our country from those who do not respect our laws.

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