Thanks to in large part to a huge investment in ignorance, Mexican American Studies were effectively banned in the Tuscon Unified School District. In a month where we are celebrating Latin@ History on the City Lights Blog, and specifically the literature associated with it, we wanted to use a post to inform about the ban and about the necessity of Ethnic Studies in the U.S. education system.
The Arizona Ethnic Studies Network offers a lot of resources to those interested in educating themselves on the activism to re-establish the Mexican American Studies program in Tuscon and on talking points about the importance Ethnic Studies in general.
From The Network:
What is Ethnic Studies?
What is Ethnic Studies? Ethnic Studies “includes units of study, courses, or programs that are centered on the knowledge and perspectives of an ethnic or racial group, reflecting narratives and points of view rooted in that group’s lived experiences and intellectual scholarship.” Christine Sleeter (2011) Executivey Summary, The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A research review. National Education Association Research Department, Washington, D.C., vii.
Why is there a need for Ethnic Studies?
Teaching about the United States and American society traditionally has left out the experiences of certain communities and emphasized the experiences of others, particularly those in positions of political power like Presidents. Yet most Americans have not been in positions of political power and may experience history very differently. Without a more complete view of these different experiences, Americans may accept as natural or common sense certain ideas and views that are actually developed over time by those in positions of power.
What does Ethnic Studies actually do to address this? Ethnic Studies specifically explores how racial identities over time have been given certain meanings and values that have shaped interactions between ethnic groups and informed different communities’ access to education, safety, and economic mobility. Ethnic Studies documents the histories of ethnic groups that were not included in the history textbooks, such as African Americans, American Indians, Asian Pacific Americans, Latinos/Latinas. Ethnic Studies explores how different ethnic European groups historically formed a specific European American ethnic identity as well.