School system strips multiculturalism

Did you know there are black people in Brazil?

Did you know there are black people in Africa too?

I’m practicing my George Dubya impersonation. I’m thinking of running for office someday.

Seriously, did you know that October is Hispanic Heritage Month? I honestly did not, and I’m a bit ashamed. I thought October was all about jack-o-lanterns and that week when this town becomes black America’s playground – you know, Homecoming.

Growing up in Miami in a predominantly Cuban neighborhood, attending predominantly Cuban schools and being taught by predominantly Cuban teachers, I learned two things about my history. One, Fidel Castro is bad because everyone says he is. Two, Jose Marti did some good things for Cubans.

I wish I knew more and I hate to point the finger but I feel-along with millions of other people – I was done an injustice by our educational system.

I learned that Martin had a dream and Rosa sat on the bus. Things get sort of fuzzy after that as far my black history lessons go.

Memorize the states, the capitals, the golden rule, the pledge of allegiance and you’re a good kid.

It’s not until college that we’re told to think outside the box, or so I thought. Last spring I took a government class.

The topic of discussion was the assimilation of black people in America. When one student’s opinion contradicted the professor’s, the student told the instructor he was teaching incorrect information.

Understandably, the teacher was upset. After a brief power struggle, the student was asked to leave. After refusing, he was threatened with being escorted out. Who was this young man to question the Almighty $100 Textbook?

Only little kids should be seen and not heard.

Do we really know about our cultures? In case you didn’t notice, I am not speaking to only Hispanic students.

But, ask that Dominican girl in your class about her culture and see what she knows about her history and the contributions Dominicans have made to domestic and foreign societies.

Then, ask her where she got her information from – television or school, mami?

I can almost hear voices saying “You want Hispanic culture, go to a Hispanic school.” The last time I checked, the local historically Hispanic college’s journalism program didn’t match up with ours.

I won’t school folks this time, and tell about all the contributions Hispanics worldwide have made. I won’t tell people why they should give a hoot about October all of a sudden. You’ll learn that if you can and want to. Find out for yourself.

Did you know that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are on the same island?

Vote Mitjans in 2036.

Until then…

Aurelio Mitjans, 22, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Miami. He can be reached at