We challenged How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents because of language, actions and situations in it.
First we want to note that our challenge requested that this book be removed from all elementary and middle school libraries. The letter sent to us by the principal of Franklin MS where we initiated this challenge incorrectly said all FCPS libraries. On December 12, 2002 we asked that this letter be corrected but it never was. We have not challenged the use of this book in high school at this time.
Second we want to note that on Nov 8, 2002 Bev Bachelor of Franklin MS told us that this book had been removed from Franklin MS and in our meeting on Nov 11, 2002 at Franklin MS Principal Peyser said that this book would be put on professional shelves. We were pleased to hear that this book would no longer be accessible to Franklin MS children and that Franklin MS was correctly following the regulation procedures for a countywide challenge and passing our challenge to the Department level.
We requested in our challenge that members of the ALA and NEA not sit on this How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents review committee. This was refused in the letter sent to us calling this meeting. We protest this decision. Official positions and policies of organizations are important to consider in order to achieve non-discriminatory procedures and due process. A member of the KKK, NRA or NRL would not be allowed to sit on the jury of many cases solely due to their organization’s stated and known positions about certain subjects, notwithstanding any statements about how the individuals would follow the laws or regulations. We ask that the documentation for this How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents review committee include a notation as to who are members of the ALA or NEA.
Some excerpts from this book indicative of the language, actions and situations in it were attached with our challenge and were as follows:
- “..male cousin bragged that this (hour) should be called Whore hour......this is the hour which a Dominican male of a certain age stops in on his mistress on his way home to his wife.” [pg 7]
- “..smoking a little dope and sleeping with their classmates were considered political acts...” [pg 28]
- “...since she couldn’t spend an overnight with him in New York, she had to travel thousands of miles to sleep with him. .... On the way home, she tossed her diaphragm in the first bin at (the airport).” [pg 29]
- “...father regained his ..fury....Has he deflowered you? ........Are you a whore? ... It’s none of your fucking business!” [pg 30]
- “The second one was doing a lot of drugs to keep her weight down. The youngest had just gone off with a German man when they discovered she was pregnant.” [pg 47]
- “Lights out when they made love.... she carried on about the Great Mother and the holiness of the body and sexual energy being eternal delight.” [pg 48]
- “Do you know your face is a perfect heart? he discovered this every time he wanted to make love to her.... I’m sweating... Don’t. .The hand wouldn’t listen. ....right hand played piano on her ribs, and his mouth blew a piccolo on her breasts. Shit! she yelled..... Fuck!" [pg 76-77]
- “ ... was the kind of guy who could kiss you behind your ear and make you feel like you’d just had kinky sex.” [pg 92-93]
- “..was the first pornographic poem I’d ever co-written.... I didn’t know until R. explained to me ...meant spring was ejaculating green leaves on the tress, the new crocuses were standing stiff... on account of they were turned on.” [pg 93]
- “... would understand the jokes everybody was making on the last two digits of the year 1969, I too would be having sex and smoking dope,.. would be saying things like no shit..” [pg 95]
- “..guys migrated from one room to another, smoking a little dope, drinking a lot. There were the heavy rooms for dropping acid or taking mushrooms.... pungent smell of marijuana.” [pg 95]
- “Jesus Christ..... I’m not going to fucking rape you!” [pg 95]
- “..cuddling and kissing, R’s hand exploring down my blouse. But if he wandered any lower I’d pull away.... I was afraid I’d get pregnant....so many references I didn’t know... didn’t want to just be in the sack, screwed, balled, laid and fucked my first time with a man. ..worth a shit........are you frigid or something? ....Jesus, we’ve been going out a month.... When’s it going to be all right?” [pg 96-97]
- “He was nude... He was wore down with frustration, he said. I was cruel. ... didn’t understand that unlike a girl it was physically painful for guys not to have sex .... I thought you’d be hot-blooded being Spanish ... under all that Catholic bullshit, you’d be really free.... But Jesus, you’re worse than a fucking Puritan.” [pg 98-99]
- “..I was frightened of having sex with a man who called it getting laid. .....I played it out in my head. .....We would make love ..... we would screw and fuck and ball and get laid...” [pg 100-101]
- “..five years later ... I’d had a couple of lovers. I was on birth control... lapsing from my heavy-duty Catholic background.. (Rudy called)... he came on over...said, Hey Jesus Christ, I’ve waited five years, and you look like you’ve gotten past all your hang-ups. Lets just fuck. I threw him out.” [pg 102-103]
- “... there were no men in it. The pictures all celebrated women and their bodies.... a whole chapter on lesbians.” [pg 110]
- Discussing on whether to smuggle a baggy of weed: “If we’re caught at Customs we’re in a shitload of trouble..... You could try the Kotex trick.....it would be nice to have a little pot to smoke....Who uses Kotex anymore? ... Would Tampax work?” [pg 112]
- “..(Mom had been) worried sick about protecting our virginity since we’d hit puberty ...and vice had entered through an unguarded orifice at the other end..... she contacted T.P., a psychiatrist...C. made a vague attempt to discredit T.P. by revealing how he always ended our sessions with long hugs and a pat on the butt. He’s a lech... and besides what does Saint Peter know about grass?” [pg 114-115]
- “His father is our father’s brother... has a half a dozen children from... a woman from the countryside around one of his ranches.... Another uncle.. offers to take M. as his own illegitimate son. He’s never married and is always getting ragged about being a homosexual. So two men are off the hook with one bastard.” [pg 118-119]
- “..the problem is she has no contraception. Anyone she might go to for pills or a diaphragm ... would rat on her..... And M. won’t wear a rubber.” [pg 123]]
- “We can try to find.... J. who often has a couple of joints, and knows a voodoo priest who will tell our futures after performing a scary animal sacrifice.” [[pg 124]
- “..grins wickedly and drives a little ways out of town to (the) whore house. ....asks for a cabin.... he has risked getting into a lot of trouble.... nice girls at a whore house... How many taboos can we break here.... incest, group sex. lesbian sex, virgin sex- .....Virgin sex? .... Who’re you talking about? (They see their sister going into another cabin) with a guy that thinks condoms cause impotence.” [pg 124-125]
- “Go back where you came from you dirty spic!.. (he) pulled her blouse out of her skirt...and lifted it high... No titties he snickered.” [pg 153]
- “The man spoke up. Where ya’ going? ...Excuse me she asked politely... leaning into the car...Something caught her eye. She looked down and stared, aghast. The man had tied his (shirt) ..above his waist and was naked (below). String... looped around his penis... his big blunt-headed thing grew so that it filled and strained at the lasso it was caught in.... C’moninere... C’m’on he moaned. He cupped his hand over his thing.... a pained, urgent expression was deepening on his face. ...His arm pumped at something... and after much agitation he was still. The face relaxed....bowed his head as if in prayer.” [pg 157-158]
- “What did you see the .. cop asked. The man was naked all down here... and he had a string...What was he doing with the string?.......Let your daughter please describe what she saw....it was tied in a ..made the sign for zero...A noose, and his thing (pointing) to the policeman’s crotch...... was inside that noose and it got bigger and bigger.” [pg 162-163]
- “A goddamn bang comes at the goddamn door. ....V. does not lose a beat, but calls out Un minuto and finishes first. He shakes his head at the sweet giggling thing.... dicks and dollars are what talk in El Paraiso anyway.... F. got him fixed up with T. who has kept him in the little girls he likes, hot little numbers... V. dresses quickly....Hasta luego he says waving to the little girl sitting up and pouting prettily... Naughtily, she lifts her little chin. Really, they are so cute.” [pg 205-206]
- “C. rushes towards him (V.). .... A sweetheart, this little lady, and not bad legs either. Unfortunately, the nuns caught her young...... (he) grins, thinking back on the sweet little number not much older than some of the little sirens sitting around the table now. (Uncle) V. they call out. Honestly, lash me to a lamppost, he thinks.” [pg 206]
- “The two men turn and, almost reflexively, their hands travel to their holsters. Their gesture reminds her of a man fondling his genitals. It might be this vague sexuality behind the violence around her that has turned L. off lovemaking all these months.” [pg 210-211]
- “...fag at the corner sold them their.. tickets....C. twisted the fag’s arm... and threatened to give his manhood the hand of God." [pg 212]
- “Some weirdo who was going to sit me on his hard-on and pretend we were playing Ride the Cock to Banbury Cross.” [pg 217]
- “C. started to unravel her bundle and we all guessed she was going to do a little farewell voodoo on us...... none of the maids wanted to sleep with her.... said she got mounted by spirits. And besides, she slept in her coffin. ... We were forbidden to go into her room to see it, but were always sneaking back there... At first M. wouldn’t let her (sleep in her coffin)... But C. said she wanted to prepare herself for dying...” [pg 219-220]
- “I clean the air with incense and light six candles..... climb into my box (coffin)... hands folded on my waist... try to accustom my flesh to the burial that is coming. I reach up for the lid and pull it down...” [pg 224]
- “..we once discovered a magazine with pictures of naked women with sly looks on their faces..” [pg 234]
- “Go on he said take them down. F. pulled down her pants and panties in one wad to her hips..... I gave my cousin a defiant look as I lifted up my cowboy skirt... and yanked my panties down... You’re just like dolls he observed.” [pg 234-235]
- “Around his neck was a halter, trailing a chain to an iron ring by the door. - And that was all he wore! He was a tiny man, ....perfectly proportioned, except for one thing. I had seen the stud bulls on my grandfathers ranch during breeding season....Once, a saucy nursemaid informed me that, ....mother had gotten me no differently. The little man grew big like those bulls... as he worked on the Virgin’s feet (a statue). ...he climbed on top, straddling her.... he touched the blank of the face, tenderly it seemed, planted his chisel at the forehead and was about to come down on her...” [pg 250-251]
We don’t feel that the material in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is necessary or appropriate for MS.
There was a choice - a choice to purchase this book and place it in a few MS libraries. Most middle schools chose not to have this book. Why did just a few schools choose differently? What makes them different? Our challenge to How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents requested that the names of the people who made the choice to be identified.
Parents don’t have a choice that their child picks a book off their school library shelf and reads it at school or at home. We, and the public have a right to know who is making these choices with our tax dollars for us. As stated in our challenge Virginia Law says the entire scheme of instruction in the public schools shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections.
If this book is only in a few schools it appears to be a waste of time and resources for FCPS to defend this material.
In July of this year the FCPS provided the school board a list of book titles dealing with homosexuality, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, gay rights, gender identity, sexual orientation, coming out and related topics. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents was not on this list even though it has homosexual and pedophilia subject material and is even in middle school. The FCPS catalog system did not use any of these keywords as subject terms for How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.
In FCPS middle schools questions about homosexuality and condoms may only be answered in the context of HIV disease prevention education. For FLE class parents are sent an opt-out form. To have materials related to the topic of homosexuality and condoms outside of FLE, such as How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, in the school library, where children are sent when they opt-out of FLE, is contradictory.
This committee will obviously do what it wants to do. In numerous past challenges that almost always has been a 100% vote against the challenger. We ask that you consider that it is possible that FCPS has made a mistake on this book.
If middle school children are going to read about joints, smoking pot, smoking dope, taking drugs for weight loss, dropping acid, taking mushrooms, and smuggling weed by hiding it in a Kotex, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read screwed, balled, laid, fucked, shit, fuck, fucking, and lines like Jesus Christ I’m not going to fucking rape you, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
In FCPS middle school FLE, which parents can opt their child out of, condoms can only be discussed in the context of disease prevention. If middle school children are going to read about contraception, birth control, birth control pills, diaphragms and rubbers, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read about how it is Catholic bullshit that a girl won’t have sex and Jesus she is worse than a fucking Puritan, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read a book with content about lesbians, homosexuals and fags, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read about a pedophile in bed with a young girl and later about how he thinks “lash me to a lamppost” when with other little girls, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read about how some weirdo was going to sit a girl on his hard-on and pretend to play Ride the Cock, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read about how a chained dwarf, growing big like a stud bull, straddles the face of a statute of the Virgin Mary and gets ready to come down on her, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
If middle school children are going to read about a man calling a young girl over to a car to see him with a string lasso looped around his penis, it growing so it fills and strains at the lasso, him moaning, his arm pumping it, and then him still and relaxed with his head bowed as if in prayer, the public has a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this.
We don’t know what parents, if any, were involved in choosing this book for MS. We don’t know who chose it and why. Parents don’t have a choice if this book is in their child’s school library. The book is available to their child, like every other book in the library, when their children are there.
There are many books that have not been chosen for some or any FCPS libraries. FCPS has made a choice to place this book in some MS libraries. We don’t think this was a wise choice.
If How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is not available to students at school, it will still be available to them and their parents in public bookstores and the public library - the same as the millions of other books not “chosen” for our schools.
29 January 2003