The winning composition would be read during the portion of the ceremony titled "Annual Celebration of Unity."
The students were not asked to write about how, for example, Martin Luther King`s civil rights victories influence their daily lives.
Nor were they given topics like black poets, black astronauts, black cowboys, black entrepreneurs or black soldiers in Iraq—any of which would have been appropriate at a gathering honoring Martin Luther King.
Instead, the assignment given by "The Breakthrough Project" was—IMMIGRATION!!!
The Breakthrough Project is a local organization of teachers, community activists and church leaders formed to foster racial tolerance and diversity…even though we in Lodi have plenty of both. The members are well intentioned, but some are tragically uninformed.
To understand just how misguided and insulting assigning immigration essays on MLK Day is to black Americans living in Lodi, readers need additional background.
This is the first year Lodi has formally recognized MLK Day. For thirty years after Ronald Reagan signed legislation creating Martin Luther King Day in 1983, Lodi never officially celebrated the holiday. A full ten years after Arizona finally honored King in 1992—under threat of tourist boycott—Lodi still did not close City Hall. When New Hampshire became the last state to enact MLK Day in 1999, business continued as usual in Lodi.
By 2003 Lodi was one of a handful of California towns that didn`t acknowledge the King holiday. Finally, under pressure, the city announced that effective in 2004, Martin Luther King Day would formally be celebrated.
So, at last, Martin Luther King Day 2004—with quite a bit of fanfare—became an official Lodi holiday.
Yet, on this historic Lodi day, the children wrote about—immigration. This is particularly odd because, despite exhaustive research by your dedicated VDARE.COM staff, we cannot unearth a single opinion that King had about immigration—at least not for the record. Nary a quote could we locate.
Of course, this is entirely understandable since King`s 1968 assassination occurred in 1968, the year that the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act became effective. It pre-dated any real debate about the National Question.
To make the immigration essays even more insulting, you should know that Lodi has only 344 black residents out of a population of 57,000. Lodi has so few blacks that the guest of honor Rev. Bob Hailey, pastor of Stockton`s Unity Southern Baptist Church, once referred to Lodi as "Lodi, Mississippi."
If you ask me, given the tiny black presence in Lodi, essays celebrating black contributions to a mostly white audience would be particularly appropriate. And that is doubly true since Rev. Hailey, the keynote speaker, is black and the president of the Stockton, CA. chapter of the NAACP.
According to one of the MLK Day attendees, only about a dozen blacks showed up. And most of them, I was told, "had" to be there.
If a black man were following the MLK Day event in the newspaper, he would no doubt wonder why celebrating immigration trumps black contributions to America—especially on this particular day.
And he could be forgiven too for questioning the priorities of the Breakthrough Project. And finally who could quarrel with him if he were to say, "Here I am, being displaced by (mostly illegal) Hispanics, and I can`t even get my due on MLK Day."
To help you measure how much of a slight immigration essays are on MLK Day, let me ask you how many Cinco de Mayo compositions you think will be written this year about the about Tuskegee Airmen?
As for the essays themselves, well…I`ll be as generous as I can and call them predictably painful. Or should I say painfully predictable? VDARE.COM readers have been subjected to this drivel many times: immigration is an unqualified great thing because today I can eat egg rolls but tomorrow I can have a burrito.
From the First Place entry (unedited):
"Immigration has enriched my life so much because now I have listen to many different kind of music, tasted of foods from so many different types of cultures and listened to languages such as French, Spanish and Hmong."
And later in the same piece:
"To be honest living in America is like living anywhere else in the world because everywhere else in the world is America."
From the Runner Up (unedited):
"It [immigration] has made us all better people and more aware of our differences. Our differences make us closer and more interesting toward each other. Though some may resent it, immigration is a start to a new and better life for those who realize it. Immigration is a start to differences. Differences make America."
But I`ll give no free passes to The Breakthrough Project or to California`s teachers who have shamelessly promoted immigration and diversity as an unassailably positive aspect of our lives. The overwhelming evidence that immigration has a negative impact is continuously ignored.
Today`s students will soon be the adults who have to cope with the consequences of excessive immigration. But as of today, they are mere mental midgets on the subject. (Proof provided above.)
Teachers have been derelict in their duty to stimulate critical thinking on California`s most pressing issue. I recommend that teachers assign their students to read and report on the January 25th Los Angeles Times Magazine cover story by Lee Green entitled Infinite Ingress, and sub-titled, "A human wave is breaking over California, flooding freeways and schools, bloating housing costs, disrupting power and water supplies. Ignoring it hasn`t worked." Immigration is listed as one of the major culprits.
These kids are young. But they aren`t too young to be forced down from the lofty perch they occupy thanks to misguided, agenda-driven public school instruction.
With the state`s future at stake, today is the day for every California K-12 student to get real.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.