Harald Martin and Me

By now, ustedes have no doubt heard that the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees recently appointed Harald Martin to fill a vacant seat. Martin, old-timers may recall, once compared himself to Zapatistas leader Subcomandante Marcos, refused to apologize after blaming a 13-year-old for her molestation at the hands of a teacher, said "diversity is a killer," and once tried to sue Mexico for $50 million for educating the children of illegal immigrants. The move has sparked a rightful uproar in the blogosphere, and there is already a movement afoot, according to the OC Blog boyos, to get Martin booted out of office.

Good for those activists. But I, for one, am glad with the AUHSD Board's decision.

Let me explain. In the summer of 1999, I was an apolitical 22-year-old who was getting ready to transfer from Orange Coast College to Chapman University's then-fledgling film program. I was going to be the next Tarantino, a Latino Kubrick, a wabby Scorsese. Then Martin opened his yap about Mexicans.

I had never really thought of myself as a "Mexican" up to that point, and definitely never thought of my kind as a threat against this country. Oh, sure, I remember 1994's Proposition 187--but I was just a sophomore in high school too afraid of getting a detention to join a walkout. But Martin's remarks were different. To believe him, the kids of illegal immigrants--didn't matter if they were born in this country or not--were ruining Anaheim schools. That meant me, my siblings (our papi came to this country as an illegal immigrant, though was a citizen by 1999), cousins, friends and virtually everyone I knew, including band geeks, jocks, ASB dweebs, stoners. EVERYONE (my school was about 90-some percent Latino by that point). We went to the schools Martin claimed to protect, suffered under lackadaisical counselors and racist principals, and many of us still managed to graduate and attend college. And now Martin was going to put the blame on us?!

On August 19, 1999, hundreds of people crowded into the AUHSD Board of Trustees chambers. I was one of them. It was my first time ever attending a government meeting of any kind. Dozens of people signed up to voice their opinion, but by a stroke of luck, I was the first one to be called. By Martin.

I have the speech somewhere in my archives, but this Los Angeles Times article excerpted part of it (and also misspelled my name). Needless to say, I was pissed that night--so pissed that I decided to join a recall effort against Martin led by Anaheim activists. It was through this association that I first spoke with reporters of some porn rag called the OC Weekly--and ustedes know how that story turned out. So, for those of you who despise me: Blame Harald Martin for unleashing the Mexican within.

People are muy upset about Martin's appointment, but if that inspires even one person to become politically engaged as I became, then the AUHSD trustee's move is brilliant. Gracias, pendejos: May your stupid move create a thousand activists that will boot all you bums out of office.

And for the activists who need help? I no longer live in Anaheim, but hundreds of my relatives do. Need signatures? Leave a post below!

And for the political conspiracists wondering why a Latino like AUHSD trustee Thomas "Hoagy" Holguin would support Martin's return, never mind that self-hating Latinos are as Orange County as oranges? Holguin is merely repaying his political papi. In late 2000, Holguin was appointed by the AUHSD board to replace a trustee who resigned. That fall, Holguin had placed fifth out of six candidates in the general election. On the board at the time of Holguin's appointment? None other Harald Martin himself, who placed seventh out of eighth in last year's election. What goes around comes around, eh?

Final point: The only other AUHSD board member who remains from the batch that appointed Holguin in 2000 was longtime Martin ally Katherine Smith. You can look it up. Mystery appointment, my ass--it's called cronyism, cabrones.

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