No Hay Escuela by Elizabeth Catlett


Monologue by Lea Borner '22

Fall 2021

Aaaw. Buenos días! Espera! Qué pasó? Noo, not again. They can’t do this, por favor!! They can’t shut my doors …again. Estos cabrónes! Heh forgive my language por favor, I just can’t believe that they did this again. Oh no pequeñito don’t be sad! Everything is ok, I am gonna be open again soon...I ... I ...aaarg. *Deep breath* I hate being a disappointment to all those little innocent children! Every morning they walk for miles to come and visit me. Citlali’s way to school is 3 miles, Axochitl’s 4.5 miles, and Malinalli has to walk nearly 7 miles. It is a long way indeed, I couldn’t make it, even if I had feet like those athletic little things. But I never moved away from my small village of La Chicatana since I was built here as a storehouse by some Farmers from the North in 1896. They soon had to discover that farming on these high altitudes and this stony ground isn’t fun, so they abandoned me … what was it? After…5 years? When they went away, I was soooo lonely, I still get a dark feeling inside thinking of those times. I just got visited by some stray dogs and other animals hanging around.

Why didn’t the locals use me, I still ask myself? Maybe they don’t like closed buildings too much, maybe they were too bitter about the unfriendly northern farmers who came here and behaved as they knew better, better than anyone else. Pff! Imagine how happy I was when the federal Secretariat of Public Education was founded in 1921, which’s task is to create more schools in rural areas. And guess what. They honored me with that title, I jumped on the social ladder from a no-one to a bright career! Una escuela! I am a schoolhouse!! This was the best year of my life they gave me a whole stomach pumping and multiple cosmetic repairs. The first day of school was so exciting, all those kids coming in cheerfully, filled me up with so much joy! I fell in decay over the years again, parts of my roof fell down and every corner aches these days. But that doesn’t matter because the children’s laughter is the best medicine. Well, if they wouldn’t close me all the time! There are some mean police officers from town. Awful ratas! They always come and lock my doors as soon as I get a little cold. Yesterday parts of my roof fell down again, just a tiny bit and they came and closed me. They are always fast to close me but the fixing…well the fixing takes long. Did you know that the illiteracy rate of indigenous people in México is still 44%? And only 27% of the children coming here will be able to graduate from high school. Those are dark numbers but what can I do? I am just an old building, what I don’t understand is, why the humans in charge don’t act? They could change this injustice easily. But apparently, they don’t want to. To secure their reputation they found some schools in rural areas and then abandon them, apart from sending the most underqualified, disinterested, and unfriendly teachers here to haunt me. The teachers are so strict with my pequeñitos. Especially, the new students have such a hard time, many of them never used the Spanish language, mostly it is their second or third language, and now their educator just uses it and can’t understand their first language. Vergüenza! Shame on them! I understand that no teacher chooses to educate under my leaking roof, but at least I try to be there for the children that’s more than they do. My poor darlings walked all the way for nothing. I hate those teachers, I hate those police officers, and most of all I hate the government!

*Deep breath* Ok, I need to calm down. Because now I am safe, here in this lovely pavilion with such a nice shiny roof and those majestic little pillars. Thanks to the American Mexican artist Elizabeth Catlett I can show the world the injustice happening in my beloved La Chicatana and in so many numerous other places throughout México. She made this linocut on paper of me and my pequeñitos to give us a voice and calls it “No hay escuela” – “There is no school”. It is such an honor to hang among all my friends, who are too Singing their songs for justice and ask Which way? we should go. Please come closer, look at us, notice us and join our fight for more justice and equality. It is the small steps that make the greatest difference in the end.