Old white people are at it again, spreading fear and hatred of other cultures to “protect the children.” OK, I know I shouldn’t say that and it’s a gross over-generalization, but it got you interested, right? Today’s local LA story comes from Hacienda Heights, an “unincorporated census-designated place” about 18 miles east of downtown Los Angeles (it’s also the home of The Dutchess). The area has more than its share of racial angst with drastic demographic changes in the last 30 years. An area that was once very white then became heavily Asian, and now also very Hispanic. The most recent census data shows that Asians and Latinos each make up a little under 40% of the population with Caucasians being just under 20%.
How has this played out? One example is the protesting of the building of a Buddhist temple in the 1980s because of fears there may be animal sacrifices and that the use of gongs would be disruptive toi the neighborhood. No, really, that was not an exaggeration. More recently, the district voted whether to be come a city on its own in 2003, but that was struck down. Some worried that it would become too easy for the Asians to take control. That being said, the one major council that Hacienda Heights does have, the Board of Education of Hacienda La Puente School District, is a majority Asian.
Now that we have our scene set, we watch as the action unfolds. The Chinese government recently began a program called the Confucius Classroom, an effort to teach children Chinese and about Chinese culture to try to root out misconceptions, or as one editorial called it, “tantamount to asking Hugo Chavez to send his cadres to teach little American kids economics.” I wish I were kidding. Anyway, back in reality, the Chinese government has funded these classrooms all across the US, 60 so far and another 80 planned for the next two years, aside from the 45 to be set up in North Carolina. It is paying the school district $30,000 per year plus providing 1,000 textbooks, CDs, and other educational materials. The Hanban, China’s language teaching agency, was even going to send a teacher, but the school board thought better of it with there already being so much resistance. Without a California teaching certificate, the person would have had to be a teaching assistant with another staff member there anyway.
Anyway, you can see where this is going. People (mostly old white people, mind you) are opposing the program, because they think it’s un-American. They think that the program will indoctrinate children into being Pinko Commies. They have even shown up to school board meetings with signs like “America, Not Confucius” and have promised to try to unseat the four members who voted for the program. Did I mention one person opposed to the program said her concern is that if you Google Confucianism, “it says it’s a religion”? Oh the irony. A program meant to keep children from ending up as ignorant and closed-minded as these people may not happen because of their ignorance.