Monday, April 22, 2013

Discussing "The Lost Mexicans of the Bastanchury Ranch"

I teach English 103: Critical Thinking and Writing at Fullerton College.  For my curriculum this semester, I am having my students read and discuss articles and essays having to do with local issues, and then write critical essays about issues facing their communities.

Today, we read and discussed a recent OC Weekly cover story by Gustavo Arellano called "The Lost Mexicans of the Bastanchury Ranch."  It's about how, in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, hundreds of legal Mexican American farm workers were illegally deported from the vast Bastanchury Ranch in Fullerton.  This well-researched and in-depth article gives a window into one of the most important, and least-known, events in Orange County history.  Gustavo's article, which I'm proud to say I helped him research, is full of illuminations about OC history, racism, immigration, and the legacy of struggle the local Mexican American community has faced.

Together, as a class, we read this article, pens in hand, making notes and jotting down questions we had.  Then, in groups, my students discussed the article and each group came up with one open-ended discussion question, which we used for a whole-class discussion.  Here are the questions my students came up with.  Feel free to discuss amongst your friends and family, especially if this is something you'd never heard or read about before.

1.) How/why did Mexican-American families and individuals first immigrate to the Bastanchury Ranch?

2.) What was the purpose of the "Americanization" programs in the ranch schools?

3.) Why did the growers, who in the 1920s lobbied congress for relaxed immigration laws, suddenly change their views and deport their workers?

4.) What happened to the families after they were deported?

5.) How were the Mexican Americans deported?

6.) Is it lawful to deport legal residents and citizens?  If not, how could something like this happen?

7.) Why would Orange County historians ignore, or try to cover up such a tragic story?

You can read the article HERE.  And then discuss amongst yourselves.


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