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National Council of Teachers of English


In a photo taken at the community college where my father Julian Medina taught, he’s wearing a tie and a middle-management, short-sleeved buttonup shirt, shaking hands with farm worker advocate César Chávez. As in my father’s proud image, I too work hard to project a professional appearance, often wearing a tie the first few weeks of the semester. I do so because of the often mistaken assumptions students make about my knowledge and the wisdom of assigning readings by writers of color. Unfortunately, this feeling of insecurity comes from lived experience. When my Anglo mother married my Mexican American father, her father disowned her. Even though my father had earned his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree and taught English at a community college in central California, his accomplishments did little to diminish my grandfather’s racial prejudice. Before my father died in 2006 at the age of fifty-six, he often told me that I was supposed to surpass his success in the same way as he did with his accomplishment as the first in his family to graduate from college. He did this by changing the family trade of mowing lawns to instead teaching English at the college level.


Copyright © 2013 National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission.



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