December 7, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
Raza Sí, a San Jose community organization, Saturday night, December 1, celebrated its tenth anniversary with a gathering of its members and supporters for a dinner at Casa del Pueblo in downtown San Jose.
Jorge Gonzales, President of Raza Sí, recounted for the celebrants the many achievements of the group in its working safeguarding the rights of immigrant workers and in working for the political empowerment of Latinos in the United States.
This past year, Raza Sí aggressively challenged the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service because of its prejudicial treatment of Latinos living in this valley; particularly towards Latinos living in East San Jose.
Just prior to the recent census count, the INS began to question and pick up people and children they believed could be “illegal.” These actions by the INS frightened the Latino community but also demonstrated prejudice by the INS towards Latinos and a lack of respect of the rights of U.S. citizens who, in this case, were of Mexican/Latino ancestry.
Following a number of community meetings, with much publicity and important support from local policy makers for the concerns of Raza Sí, the INS curtailed its uncivil actions.
Raza Sí president Gonzales, announced that the focus of his group for the coming years would be the education of Chicano/Latino youth. Gonzales pointed out that, unless a major effort was made to prepare our youth for the sciences and engineering professions, our community would be relegated to the ﬁelds and those service occupations requiring less education which, “though honorable” are less remunerative.
Indeed, unless our educational and health care systems improve soon for many of our children, not only in this county but in this nation, the United States will decline in world importance.
Recently, New York Times reporter, Anthony de Palma, wrote that, “we (the U.S.) face the serious problem of becoming a know-nothing country”. He offers as evidence “a serious drop of Americans enrolled in graduate programs particularly in technology and the hard sciences.” De Palma writes that the American Mathematical Society found that 57% of the 933 mathematics doctorates awarded last year went to foreign students. Similar statistics are reported for American student enrollments in the fields of earth and mineral sciences, electrical and civil engineering. All of these are areas in which future job opportunities are expected to increase.
To avert this expected short fall, Congress recently revised the U.S. Immigration Law to promote the immigration of skilled professionals, allowing in future years 140,000 professional immigrants per year versus the current number of 55.000.
Education and its funding for our youth seems to have a low priority for some of this State’s elected officials. Outgoing state governor, George Dukemejian, has repeatedly attempted to reduce the current inadequate education budget in his attempt to find money to reduce the $4 billion gap that the state faces in 1991-92.
In addition to insufficient funds for education, the health needs of our youth have been neglected. Preventable diseases are on the rise among preschoolers.
Many children are not receiving immunization for such preventable diseases as polio, mumps, measles, and tuberculosis. In fact, according to a recent New York Times article, in the first 48 weeks of this year there were 25,155 cases of measles, 70 percent more than the measles cases reported in the comparable period of last year.
In Santa Clara County, 60% of the children from poor families were not eligible for state Medi-Cal assistance, which itself is so poorly funded and complex that even though 89,000 children are eligible for such assistance fewer physicians are willing to accept new Medi-Cal patients. According to the recent County Report “Alternative Futures; Trends and Choices,” in 1989 only 40 out of 169 Santa Clara County pediatricians would accept new Medi-Cal patients.
Children who are ill and malnourished cannot achieve well in school. According to a report by the Policy Analysis for California Education, the percentage of Californians in 1987 are eligible for, but not receiving, food stamps ranged from 15% to 40%. Clearly that ﬁgure is higher in 1990, as more and more families find themselves unemployed or among the working poor.
Saturday’s celebration conveyed a feeling of family. The evening began with a number of beautiful and colorful prayer dances by the group Danzantes Tezkatlipoca and music by the very talented group “Flor del Pueblo”, Eduardo Robledo awed the audience with his virtuosity on the guitar.
Poet Jose Burciaga recited some of his poems. Burciaga had the audience laughing so hard at a discourse on his “research” in the use and meaning of the word “pedo” among Spanish speakers.
Also, honored that evening were Vice Mayor, Blanca Alvarado and Santa Clara Supervisor, Zoe Lofgren, who were present at that dinner. Honored, but unable to attend the dinner were Santa Clara County Supervisor, Ron Gonzales and U.S. Congressmen, Don Edwards and Norm Mineta.
Lofgren, in accepting her award, commended her colleagues on the Board who, she said, have consistently and unanimously supported the appeals and efforts of Raza Si.
Others recognized were, Richard Konda of the Asian law Alliance, Terry Johnstone of the Campaign for Human Development, Father Bill Lenineer and Jaime Lopez, and a number of Raza Si leaders, each of whom in very special ways have helped Raza Sí.
The very popular and respected Channel 48 news anchor, Celina Rodriguez, was Mistress of Ceremony. San Jose State MECHA students served the evening’s dinner.
Gonzales said that Raza Sí sought “solidarity with other minority communities,” and that, “in seeking protection of the rights of the Latino community it (Raza Sí) thereby is protecting the rights of the entire community.
Lofgren, formerly a practicing lawyer, earlier that evening expressed her high regard for the work of Raza Sí. In her words, “if any one (person) is subject to oppression we are all at risk of oppression.”
Raza Sí member, Maria (Luchita) Ugalde, will be teaching interested persons, particularly children how to make piñatas. Classes are scheduled to begin in January. For more information about this class or about Raza Sí and its work, call 295-0656. Cultural activities are also a part of the work carried on by Raza Sí.