Racism in El Paso

Racism is kind of like a secret club. If you don’t belong, you might not know it exists.

In 1927, El Paso decided to open a second high school to alleviate the overcrowding at El Paso High. The school was located in Segundo Barrio, an exclusively Mexican neighborhood. The city named it after a hero of the Alamo.

To drive home the point, the elementary feeder school for Bowie was Alamo Elementary.

Sure, what’s in a name? Those names reflect our heritage. Our tradition. Our history.

But names can also be subtle, or not so subtle, symbols of oppression.

We need to confront the prejudices of the past, and fix what we can.

8 comments

  1. I read your article about racism in El Paso. I know that the past is a picture of what once was. That is not so today. We read about the names of the southerns who fought in the civil war. But we forget that most southerns who fought in the civil war did not fight it to protect slavery. It was fought by most people to protect states rights. What about the statue at the International airport of the spaniard that murdered the indians and other low cast of society back then? Why is that staying and we are renaming schools and roads named after Southern Generals. We hear about the minority but who is the minority in the city of El Paso? The press talks about the minority in El Paso all the time but it is based not on the population of El Paso. Racism comes in many forms and we see that from all our politicans who cry about the minority, but that minority does not exist in El Paso like everyone wants people to believe.

    1. What are you talking about, Mr. Raub? Blacks? You can say it. It’s not a dirty word.

      And are you telling me that all those Confederates fought for something as vague as “state’s rights”? Which rights do you suppose they were fighting for? The right to own slaves? Here’s a researched article from LiveScience.com:

      [T]he original documents of the Confederacy show quite clearly that the war was based on one thing: slavery. For example, in its declaration of secession, Mississippi explained, “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world … a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” In its declaration of secession, South Carolina actually comes out against the rights of states to make their own laws — at least when those laws conflict with slaveholding. “In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals,” the document reads. The right of transit, Loewen said, was the right of slaveholders to bring their slaves along with them on trips to non-slaveholding states.

      In its justification of secession, Texas sums up its view of a union built upon slavery: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”

      I appreciate your point. That the war was about “state’s rights” was long taught in school. But that opinion is not supported by scholarly research.

      Thanks for reading.

    2. Yeah, they named all those schools after Texas rebellion heros to keep the Mexicans in their place – Bowie, Fannin, Zavala, Crockett, Travis. But if you’re suggesting they change the name of Bowie H.S., goooooooood luck with that! Thirty or so years ago UTEP hosted a symposium on Hispanic murals. Prominent Chicano muralists from all over the country boarded a tour bus and toured South El Paso looking at murals. We got off to see the murals at Bowie, and Paul Strelzin, the principal there at that time, met us. When the artists saw the Alamo hero-themed murals they pointed out the irony of those depictions at a Chicano high school. He brushed off their implications.

  2. Fannin was a slave trader.
    Doniphan massacred Mexicans during the Mexican American War.
    Every statue of Jesus depicts him as a tall thin white guy with flowing straight hair. If he existed at all, he probably was a short, squat, brown guy with curly black hair.
    We have a lot of correcting to do.

  3. If you want to get down to it, Texas itself was founded by a bunch of illegal immigrants that essentially were squatters in the Mexican state of Tejas and refused to leave when ordered to do so. They essentially had set up a large CHOP zone like we recently saw in Seattle.
    You don’t learn that in 7th grade Texas history do you?

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