Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez



Historical Figures



Mexican American Community

Social Change

Larry Dane Brimner & Maya Gonzalez


Roberto Alvarez liked growing up and attending school in Lemon Grove. That is until one day when he gets to school, and he’s turned away. Roberto and the other Mexican American students are being sent to another segregated school, which as you might imagine was not the same as the one they had been attending previously. Instead of accepting this harsh and unfair treatment, Roberto and his family (along with others) sued to be able to attend Lemon Grove again!

While reading, I couldn’t help but be struck by how often events like these happen to people of color and immigrants of the US (which is colonized lands let’s remember). Brown V Board of Education didn’t pop up out of nowhere, cases like this preceded it. The Chinese Exclusion Act occurred before this. Racist depictions and accusations of immigrant and folks of color being “backwards” did not appear with the Lemon Grove case that Roberto and his community fought. These have been entrenched in our society since we colonized Turtle Island. But by studying this history, we can do better in the future and recognize the patterns of oppression in an attempt to correct the path that white supremacy has trodden.

For #SweetsAndSocialJustice this week, I took inspiration from the book and made some easy no-churn lemon sorbet! Using equal parts sugar and water, I boiled it for 5-7 minutes and then whisked in an equal amount of lemon juice. This makes it REALLY puckery sour, so you can reduce the lemon juice if you want it less so! I used 1.5 cups of each, and put the loaf pan in the freezer for a few hours. The thinner the layer of sorbet in the pan, the quicker it will freeze!

This book was kindly sent by Boyds Mills & Kane & is a contender for the #Bookstagang_BestOf2021 list!

Larry Dane Brimner

Larry Dane Brimner is the author of 200 books for young readers. His books have received many awards, including the Carter G. Woodson Award, the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Book Award Honor, and the Eureka! Gold and Silver state awards in California, among other accolades. He also had a one-year stint writing children’s programming for PBS. Born in Florida, he taught at the high school and university levels in California for twenty years and now makes his home in both San Diego, California, and Tucson, Arizona. In addition to high school and university, he taught at the primary, elementary, and junior high school levels. When he is not writing, he enjoys mountain biking, cooking, working with mosaic tile, wogging (a combination of walking and jogging), and playing hide-and-seek with his schnauzer, Kubric. 

Larry enjoys visiting between 30 and 60 schools every year, where he motivates young people to read and write. His school programs are a blend of stand-up comedy, storytelling, and pro-literacy, pro-writing–he believes that everyone has a story. After one visit to Sandy, Utah, a parent wrote him to say that her young son now kept a special notebook because he was an author and had some stories to write. That’s exactly the outcome he hopes to achieve, as he strives to impress upon children that their own lives are rich material for story–whether something fanciful, something exaggerated, or something factual. You can learn more about him at http://www.brimner.com.

Maya Gonzalez

Maya Gonzalez is an artist, author and progressive educator whose work focuses on the use of art and story as powerful tools of reclamation and transformation. Her fine art graces the cover of Contemporary Chicano/a Art and is well documented as part of the Chicano Art Movement. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning children’s books, several of which she also wrote. Her book My Colors, My World won the prestigious Pura Belpré Award Honor from the American Library Association and her most recent picture book, Call Me Tree was listed in Kirkus’ Best Picture Books of 2014 that Celebrate Diversity. Since 1996, Maya has been providing presentations to children and educators about the importance of creativity as a tool for personal empowerment. Her work with children in public schools helped her develop several lines of curriculum that offer a holistic approach to learning and open doors to new ways of thinking and relating in the world. In 2009 she co-founded Reflection Press and in 2013, Maya co-created an online learning environment called School of the Free Mind about expanding the mind and reclaiming the creative. In 2015, Maya launched the Write Now! Make Books series for kids through Reflection Press, a free, playful, in-depth program that engages kids and teens in the very real conversation of diversity in their books. Maya lives and plays in San Francisco with her two powerful kids and her partner Matthew.

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