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Hate speech has no place in our political discourse

REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
In the weeks leading up to the beginning of this school year, we have witnessed candidates for federal public office use offensive language such as “illegals” and “anchor babies” to garner media attention.

The League of Latino Educators (LLE) strongly condemns the use of hate speech in our political discourse. LLE urges the major political parties in the state of Minnesota to join us in changing the tone of the conversation by passing platform resolutions against discriminatory and racist language. As educators, public servants and community leaders, we cannot stand for rhetoric that hurts our students and families. We welcome our students with open arms regardless of their family background, immigration status or political ideology. Our political discourse must also strive for inclusion and reject discriminatory language.

Paula Yadel Cole

In the weeks leading up to the beginning of this school year, we have witnessed candidates for federal public office use offensive language such as “illegals” and “anchor babies” to garner media attention. They have repeated messages about the Latino community that are not true of us or our culture. When addressing a group of Minnesota leaders at the Unidos Votamos gathering in August, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro reminded us that Latinos and immigrants are hard-working people that include not only home care workers, day laborers and farmers but also doctors, lawyers, teachers and business owners.

We come from a strong and loving culture that is driven by a sense of family and community. As President Barack Obama states, “We will always be a nation of immigrants. What makes us Americans is an ideal that we are all equal and all of us had the chance to make our lives what we will.” And Peter Robinson, a former Reagan speechwriter, explains that “it was in Ronald Reagan’s bones — it was part of his understanding of America — that the country was fundamentally open to those who wanted to join us here.”

Soraya Valedon-Lopez

Latinos are the fastest growing population in the country and are poised to someday become the majority. A Latino youth comes of voting age every 30 seconds.

Our task, as educators, is to prepare our Latino youth to lead the nation. We all must do our part to ensure that our students and future leaders are not stigmatized or marginalized. Our students are the next Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court justice; Mario Molina, Nobel Prize winning scientist; Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist; astronaut Ellen Ochoa; and Alberto Gonzales, former U.S. attorney general. Social and emotional development, cultural competence and a global worldview, as much as academic proficiency, are the skills required to lead in the 21st century. Imparting these skills require a safe and inclusive school climate. Political hate speech promotes the opposite.

Juanita Ortiz

Hate speech is already making a negative impact in our schools. As reported by the media earlier this month, students at Erwin High School in North Carolina turned a civics class assignment into posters that read “Illegals, Go Home #notwelcome.” This divisive, hateful rhetoric against Latinos and immigrants and hostile school environment are not conducive to student learning. We may disagree on policy issues, but our students, families and communities should never be used as political ping-pong.

We urge politicians to follow our lead in creating a more perfect, diverse and inclusive union. We ask that they and their parties support and encourage the passage of a platform resolution opposing hate speech at the parties’ conventions next spring.

Paula Yadel Cole is a Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) teacher and president of the League of Latino Educators (LLE). Soraya Valedon-Lopez is an MPS teacher and is the vice president of LLE. Juanita Ortiz is a St. Paul Public Schools teacher and secretary of LLE.

This commentary is adapted from a letter sent to the chairs of Minnesota political parties, signed by 45 LLE members, parents and families, community leaders and student advocates, teachers, friends and allies.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 09/24/2015 - 08:58 am.


    hate speech has a very prominent role in our political discourse and as we have seen recently, on our school boards as well.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 09/24/2015 - 09:40 am.

    The GOP has lost its moral core.

    It is going to be a hard sell getting the Hispanics to think the Republicans offer anything in their interest. You can’t badmouth the Hispanics and expect to see them come flocking to your side. The Republicans have been fans of the Hispanics, but the only reason they have been fans is because they represent hard working, cheap labor. George W. Bush’s response about Hispanics was they, Hispanics, will do the jobs no one else will do. Political inaction is why we have the immigration problems. Why has there been political inaction? Because the Hispanics are a valuable resource for big business, plain and simple. Now something has happened the politicians didn’t plan on. The Hispanics had children that are now American Citizens. The problem is now larger than building a bigger fence and the longer the politicians wait the problem will only get that much more intense. What GOP candidate is going to have the courage during this election cycle to deal with the immigration problem? My guess none of them.

    Immigration isn’t a political issue it is a very moral issue. The Senate has passed a bipartisan immigration bill, by a margin that couldn’t be filibustered. The total lack of leadership in the House has John Boehner unwilling to even put an immigration bill up for a vote because he is afraid of the politics of it. Immigration isn’t a political issue it is a very moral issue. The GOP keeps chipping away at its moral core. The Blacks and Asians have left the party, Women are leaving the party, soon to be followed by the Hispanics. The Hispanics do the work asked of them but they have become a GOP liability and yet their value to the big AG companies out west cause the GOP a political dilemma. How can the GOP resolve their Hispanic “problem” and still serve their lobbyists? They are not just 11,000,000 Hispanics, they are 11,000,000 human lives the GOP refuses to deal with. The GOP has totally lost its moral core. Pretty soon the GOP will be nothing more than the rich old white guys’ party. The GOP circus continues.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 09/24/2015 - 07:25 pm.

    I’m sure the Hispanics, blacks, women and any other person or group wants a job to feed his/her family. Under the Obama term women and blacks have been hurt more than any other group. With a labor participation rate the lowest in a half century, no one is working, wages have gone down the past 6 years, welfare has gone up and part time jobs are more the norm, all bad. I am sure folks are looking for work rather than pleasant tones from their elected officials.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/24/2015 - 09:41 pm.

    You talking about THIS Trump?

    ….Trump owns companies that have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor data reviewed by Reuters. Most of the applications were approved, the data show.

    Nine companies majority-owned by Trump have sought to bring in foreign waitresses, cooks, vineyard workers and other laborers on temporary work-visa programs administered by the Labor Department.

    The candidate’s foreign talent hunt included applications for an assistant golf-course superintendent, an assistant hotel manager and a banquet manager.

    Two of his companies, Trump Model Management and Trump Management Group LLC, have sought visas for nearly 250 foreign fashion models, the records show….

    …The Mar-a-Lago, a luxury resort in Palm Beach, Florida, has sought the most foreign workers of the nine Trump businesses: 787 workers since 2006, according to the data.

    This month, the resort filed paperwork seeking to bring in 70 foreign workers later this year on H-2B visas to serve as maids, cooks and wait staff, according to paperwork known as “job orders” published on the Labor Department’s web site…..

  5. Submitted by joe smith on 09/25/2015 - 08:16 am.

    Trump is not a favorite of mine but I do like watching the liberal media’s response every time he throws a haymaker at a politician or at Obama administration. You can say all you want about him and 250 foreign models but the flat out truth is he has employed 10’s of thousands of Americans. Call him many things but please don’t say he hasn’t created jobs from steel workers, engineers, hospitality, pipe fitters and so many more for thousands and thousands of Americans.

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