How Factual is Blackspanic College?

I did not begin teaching at Los Angeles Southwest College with the intent to write a book, and I didn’t record or take notes of conversations. It wasn’t until months after I’d left the job that I realized that therein lay a story.

But from various memos, class plans, rosters and, most helpfully, the student newspapers I had saved, along with my recollections and those of others from the college, I was able to compile a timeline of my experiences. Everything in the book happened, and in the same order, although in the particulars, especially the dialog, I filled in memory gaps as best I could. To protect the innocent and spare the guilty from cheap shots, I changed the names of the college and most of the people there, but they are all real.

The section of the book I took the most factual liberties with is Chapter 11, “Final Project,” about assigning my public relations students to create a P.R. campaign to bring peace to the Middle East. I did give my P.R. class such an assignment and spent a couple of classes lecturing on “the history of the people, cultures, religions, governments and factions in the Mideast.” I also made analogies between factions in the Middle East and gangs in South Central.

But some of what I said during my lecture was inaccurate, and some of my opinions have evolved, so I changed some of what I said to what I would have said if I’d had years to research and think about it, as I did when I wrote the book. However, the four P.R. projects in the story are what the students actually came up with, and the wording of the final exam is verbatim from the original. The dean did show up as I was giving the final exam, and the ending also happened as written.

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