Racial and Socioeconomic Stereotypes in Stand and Deliver


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Racial and socioeconomic stereotypes have been ubiquitous throughout the world and we see certain aspects of it in the movie Stand and Deliver. Set in a Latino area in Los Angeles, this drama expressed the many struggles of minority groups specific to it’s time in history. The movie was released in 1988 and was directed by Ramon Menendez, who also wrote the screenplay with the help of Tom Musca. Many awards were given to the 1 hour 43 minute movie, two of them being “Best Male Lead” and “Best Director” in the Independent Spirit Awards and received many other nominations. The students in the movie had a very hard time proving that they had the capability of being successful, even though they had Hispanic last names. The lead character, Mr. Escalante, was a role model for his AP Calculus class because he was the living proof that one did not have to have white skin in order to be successful which drove his students to prosper.

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Mr. Escalante had quit his previous job that had paid him well in order to go to work in a school that did not seem that it had much hope left. Many of the students in the school were not passing and some of them were even in gangs, such as Angel. A girl character by the name of Ana had many troubles with attending classes because of her dad not realizing that she was capable of having a future other than working in the family restaurant due to her being a female. Mr. Escalante, however, managed to persuade her dad and she ended up being one of the top students in the class. The main factor other than race and sex that distrupted the students success was that their families were all from poor household compared to the rest of the nation. Because of their low socioeconomic status, the schools around the area were expected to have lower grades by organizations such as Collegeboard and if they were to achieve above the expected average, the authorities instantly suspected dishonesty. Mr. Escalante went out of his way to prove to society that anyone from any social status could get an education and made sure that his AP Calculus class was motivated enough to learn. His efforts paid off as 18 of his students passed, but this victory was short lived as it was not normal for a low achieving school to have such high scores and the students honesty were in question. Mr. Escalante did not give up and was dedicated to enough to teach his students again which had them pass a second time.

Menendez achieved his goal at illustrating his view on society and the movie was a huge success because of the significant impact it had on certain groups of people. It had such a big impact that the Library of Congress chose the movie to be preserved in the National Film Registry. He precisely demonstrated how society beliefs that the poor communities are doomed for failure and bad grades were seen as normal. The school in the movie was depicted as being very unorganized and having a lack in authority. This gives the viewers a sense of what people in poor areas had to experience and the many obstacles they faced. Mr. Escalante portrayed himself different to the expectations of others in school in the way that he gave importance to education and believe anything was possible to achieve success. We see him sacrificing his family time in order to teach his community so they could be better off in the future. The people succeeding from impoverished areas are questioned which helps society see how unfair the education system actually is towards these poorer communities. I would definitely recommend this movie to people born into fortunate conditions where they do not have to worry about racial and socioeconomic stereotypes so they can better understand the struggle of less fortunate groups.

No matter what one’s circumstances may be, the movie shows that it is possible for anyone to learn as much as someone in the best school in the nation. As long as a school has the right ingredients to provide to its students there should not be any obstacle impossible for a student to overcome. Stand and Deliver presented the importance of a motivated teacher to help students overcome the unfortunate conditions of racial, sexual and socioeconomic stereotypes. 

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