Matt de la peña’s Mexican Whiteboy
Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. A 95 mph fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.
But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico. And that’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he might just have to face the demons he refuses to see right in front of his face.
I encourage everyone to add this book to their reading list and to their children’s reading list like I have, not only because it may be the only book on said list that has a Mexican protagonist (or maybe even any person of color) based on the typical trend of white-dominated literature, but also because I want to think it will be a “F@#$ YOU!” to the Arizona legislature. It may not be a strong or direct form of protest, but I like to believe that any success enjoyed by a Hispanic or Hispanic American makes the Arizona politicians foam at the mouth and I secretly hope that foaming makes them choke just hard enough that they can no longer be active politicians. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are some excerpts from a great article on the subject:
On Jan. 1, after a new state law targeting Mexican-American studies courses that are perceived as antiwhite was upheld, it became illegal to teach “Mexican WhiteBoy” in Tucson’s classrooms. State officials cited the book as containing “critical race theory,” a violation under a provision that prohibits lessons “promoting racial resentment.”
And on Mr. de la Peña:
He told [students] that if they were serious about writing, they had to be ready to accept lots of failure. He once wrote a poem for a girl he liked, but after reading it, she never spoke to him again. His goal as a writer, he said, “is to give grace and dignity to people from the other side of the tracks.”
“If you are Mexican-American, embrace it,” he said. “If the classes are offered, take them; if not, try to get them back.”
Mr. de la Peña donated his fee to buy 240 copies of his books, which he gave to the students. “I want to give back what was taken away,” he told Samantha Neville, a reporter for the school newspaper, The Cactus Chronicle.
Also, if you have any thoughts on the existence (or not, if you believe so) of white dominance in popular literature or you know of any great novels with a protagonist of color, feel free to send them my way.
Finally, if you want to protest even more to the Arizona legislature, on page 116 is a list of banned materials. Read these books, and then send a letter to the Arizona legislature telling them how great these works are and how sickened you are that they want to deny children access to these wonderful works.