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Embrace Our Nation’s Diversity and Youth, Not Walls

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By Bruce Lesley


It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. – Maya Angelou

Despite my growing up in one of the nation’s poorest cities and just yards from the U.S.-Mexico border, it has always been clear to me that, although El Paso may not be rich, it has a wealth of cultural and social diversity. That is El Paso’s strength.

El Paso is a place where Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim kids and white, Hispanic, black, and Native American kids attend public schools together, play on sports teams together, eat Tex-Mex, listen to all types of music, often speak a mix of English and Spanish (“Spanglish”), and never think any of that is a big deal. It is simply life on the border.

Although some of us were multi-generation El Pasoans, many came to the “Sun City” as first-generation immigrants and the rest of us had stories of how our ancestors came to the country fleeing oppression, tragedy, war, or poverty. Like many Americans, most of us had stories of how our ancestors looked toward this country as a Land of Opportunity and the “Paso del Norte” region as a place where cultures came together in a unique and powerful way. It was through our public schools that we learned about each other and much from each other, and we understood that knowledge made us all wiser, more tolerant, and open-minded.

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