Why Ethnic Studies? (PARTICIPATION)

After watching this discussion and reading the article, what do you think the purpose of ethnic studies is?  What assumptions do people make about ethnic studies course?  Why do you think there is a backlash against these programs and course?

Why Ethnic Studies Courses Are Good for White Kids Too

by Dr. Emery Petchauer, January 9, 2012

Last week, Judge Lewis Kowal of Arizona upheld a ban on ethnic studies classes in the Tucson Unified School District. Ethnic studies generally refer to courses such as African-American studies, Asian studies, or — in the case of the Tucson Unified School District — Mexican-American studies. Courses such as these, which comprise full programs at many public universities across the United States, often focus on the contributions that such groups have made to the world and their unique social experiences. As many of these groups have experienced different types of systematic oppression, too, these courses also take a “critical” bend and focus on power, oppression, and empowerment in society.

The controversy over ethnic studies in Arizona garnered national attention in the summer of 2010 when Gov. Jan Brewer and then-State superintendent of education Tom Horne ordered that the Mexican-American studies program in Tucson be terminated. The logic of ethnic studies opponents and the recent ruling includes the following points:

1. The courses teach students to be bitter toward and resent Whites (Side note: Does studying the American Revolution teach Whites to be bitter toward the British?).

2. The courses treat students as a collective group rather than as individuals (Side note: Does the U.S. Census make people identify as individuals or as groups?).

3. The courses teach material from a biased perspective (Side note: Is the “American Revolution” taught from identical perspectives in the United States, and, say, the UK?).

4. The courses teach students to overthrow the government (Side note: Does reading Animal Farm teach students to overthrow the government?).

Each of these points is categorically false and (as my side notes suggest) tremendously narrow-sighted. Simply put, we don’t apply this kind of thinking to other parts of school curricula. These points and others have been clearly addressed before, such as here. Consequently, I will not rehash them. Instead, I want to address a key assumption about ethnic studies classes: that they are only for students of color. This is an assumption that undergirds many misled perspectives, including the recent ones in Arizona. (Side note: Are classical philosophy classes only for Greeks?) Without a doubt, classes that focus on the contributions, experiences, and unique perspectives of so-called minority groups are indeed beneficial to students of these same groups. But, ethnic studies are good for White kids, too. Here are three reasons why:

Thinking Critically. I often say that every way of seeing also is a way of not seeing. Ethnic studies courses implicitly operate upon this maxim by illustrating how different groups in the United States and around the world often have very different perspectives on events, people and eras — both big and small. Of course, some perspectives contradict with one another and are irreconcilable. When White students (or all students for that matter) are exposed to different and even contradictory perspectives, it teaches skills such as perspective-taking, abstraction and evidence-based argumentation. These are some of the basic components of critical thinking skills that are infused within state learning standards across the nation.

For people primarily concerned with traditional school outcomes, these critical thinking skills are positively linked to school and academic performance. The wide body of empirical research on conflict resolution education programs illustrates this clearly. Conflict resolution education programs (not to be confused simply with conflict resolution), such as those pioneered by Dr. Tricia Jones of Temple University, typically produce academic improvements in schools. And, this is not necessarily because schools may be safer. A byproduct of conflict resolution education is that students learn how to think in more complex, critical and sophisticated ways. These habits of mind translate into higher performance on academic measurements. The same can follow from ethnic studies. Thinking critically is not bound to one classroom. Learning it through an ethnic studies class can then transfer over into other classes, even for White students.

Replacing White Guilt. One of the sly accusations against ethnic studies is that courses make White students feel guilty and bad about themselves. Without a doubt, some White folks feel an abstract sense of guilt when they learn about some of the atrocities that White folks have inflicted upon people of color by action and inaction. Guilt is seldom a healthy place from which to act, so this feeling is certainly not productive. Ethnic studies courses — when working well — do not produce this abstract and unproductive sense of guilt. Instead, they teach White folks how to be critical allies in specific ways to struggles for equality. Stated another way, the opposite of Whiteness is not feeling guilty about being White; it’s not Blackness, and it’s not hip-hop either. The opposite of Whiteness is pushing against oppression, inequality and White privileges. And when White folks are doing those things, they are too busy to be burdened by a much played-out sense of guilt. As ethnic studies courses outline how people of color have successfully fought for their own education, liberation and humanity, this is a vital starting point for White folks to eventually join this important work and get in where they fit in.

Functioning in Today’s World. It has long been a statistical likelihood that White folks will be a demographic minority in the United States during the lifespan of current school-age children. Though many cities and rural areas still remain deeply segregated by race, the nature of the globalized economy and workforce means that the top leaders of U.S. industries will be working alongside people who do not check the same demographic boxes or hold the same social assumptions as they do. This global reality gives new importance for students to be able to function across differences. The guiding purpose that most consistently informs public education policy is to maintain dominance in the global economy. Perhaps ironically, ethnic studies programs like the ones (now formerly) in Arizona fit squarely within this purpose. Even if one subscribes to the ugly position that there is little value in studying the experiences and perspectives of people who are not White, one cannot refute the point that this area of study will prepare students — including White students — to be better leaders in today and tomorrow’s world.

As a whole, the recent iteration of the ethnic studies debate in Arizona reveals more about the longstanding political-racial ideology of the state than it does about ethnic studies classes themselves. To be clear, this political-racial ideology is one of White supremacy. Unfortunately, like the social toxin that it is, this ideology in practice

 

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70 thoughts on “Why Ethnic Studies? (PARTICIPATION)

  1. If there were really ethnic classes being taught the way they were in Arizona, then I believe a better approach would have been to find new teachers to teach the classes; rather than banning all of the cultural classes together. On the other hand, I believe it is important for students of all races to learn about the culture that surrounds us around the world. It is important to be open minded and to be able to accept race and diverse cultures.

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    1. I agree with Ciara Schwab. I was blessed to have a great Ethnic Studies teacher who taught me different ideas and culture of other ethnic groups, I know some of my friends from other school districts had other Ethnic Studies teachers who were harsh and difficult to communicate due to their strong beliefs in certain ideas of ethnicity. My experience in that course was the opposite of my friends although the material was similar mainly because the way the instructor presented the information.

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    2. To ALL who commented:

      Thank you. Please consider my comments just like any other comment you have made. My comments is neither any indicator of your grade and nor do they affect your grade simply because your grade will depend on TWO things:

      (a) How consistent you are in making comments in all posts. (60%)
      (b) How valid your arguments are/quality of your comments. (40%)

      That I am referring to you/your comment doesn’t mean that you will get any less grade because of this.

      Ciara, I don’t think changing teacher can help improve it. I rather believe that the ban on ethnic studies reflects misconception and fear about it. Generally, teachers will be teaching the same ideas every where. So instead of changing teachers, changing mindset is what required.

      But Ciara, I totally agree with your views on diversity.

      I just want to add that we should be careful about “othering” (ask me in class) diversity.

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  2. Just by sitting in my first ethnic studies class on Tuesday, August 26th, I did feel guilty. Being a white girl, I felt like I was in the wrong place or didn’t know how to go about the situation. Watching the video above, I realized exactly why I took the class. I took the class to learn about other cultures and societies. There is no reason why they should have banned the courses in Arizona as long as they are not a requirement. If people are willing to learn about other lifestyles and/or history then so be it. There is a backlash against these programs and courses because a number of people have a hard time excepting others into our world or country or even state that they believe “don’t belong.”

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    1. I completely agree with Fiona. Before I entered the course I did not fully understand the purpose for me taking it. After sitting through our first class and other classes it has made me realize that people need to not be so focused on their issues and focus on issues in society. I am guilty on focusing more on myself and the things going on in my life other than focusing on issues in other peoples lives and what they are going through. This class has opened my eyes to what people in other culture have gone through and what are still going through today. Every student needs to have the opportunity to learn about other cultures.

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      1. Megan, I want to add that all of us should understand one thing: who do phrases like our people, our culture, other people, other culture refer to?

        Mexican-American, African-American, Italian-American are different ethnic groups. But they are all Americans, right? They all belong to our culture, that is, American culture.

        Also, Some Americans carrying European legacy have unjustifiably been given privilege over centuries. Consequentially, some, not all white Americans, ignorant of history, claim/exercise white supremacy. Any discussion that considers how that has been done and how we all can end discrimination can come from Mexican-American Studies/African-American Studies/Ethnic Studies, but that discussion should not necessarily and/or excursively be that of Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans,etc.

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    2. 1) Fiona, none of us is responsible for what happened in the past. So, none of us should be GUILTY about that. However, we can be AWARE about our duties in the present.

      Like I said in the class, a male in our culture is NOT personally responsible for developing institutional male privilege unless he also helps reinforcing it. Similarly, a white is NOT responsible for developing white privilege unless she/he also reinforces it. Therefore, the real question should be if a male/white strongly rejects the male/white privilege society is so keen on offering!

      2) The “Us Vs. them” frame doesn’t really help us to see the complete pictures ethnic studies want to show! See, “male privilege” in the example above. It is true that females don’t have male privilege in our society but many females reinforces it!
      Again, in case of discrimination against blacks, Jews, homosexuals, or any other minorities, if we ask only them to think about it, to struggle and to end discrimination eventually, aren’t we saying that “It is not my headache. You guys try, I hope you will get it someday”?

      Instead, what we can say is “the fact that our society is still doing discrimination is a collective failure and this is something concerns us all independent of race,class, sex, gender, ability, and so on! So, insulting a gay man, for example, is NOT a headache of that gay man only but of all who belong to that society/culture.”

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  3. I believe the purpose of ethnic studies is to widen a persons knowledge on other cultural lifestyles. I find it important to learn other lifestyles besides your own that way you can compare how you do things to the way others do things. After watching the video above I realized I haven’t ever taken an ethnic class. I know that if I chose to take am ethnic class it would be because I chose too. It isn’t right for Arizona to ban classes that aren’t required because there will be students out there who would like to take those classes. People should learn to accept that everyone is born different, raised different, and are around different cultures around the world. Many people are set on the way they think and don’t like to be told otherwise which causes such a controversy.

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    1. I agree with you completely. The purpose of ethnic studies is to better understand the people and cultures on a wider and broader level. Instead of having a curiosity about others, people stay closed in and glued to their own thoughts instead of being open to hear other opinions! Great response!

      Question for you: What is one way we can start to have other people start to hear others opinions instead of being closed minded?

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  4. After watching this clip, I have come to realize how important it is for people to take the opportunity to take an ethnic class. Being a Mexican American, I believe it is important to not only see others as individuals but also different in cultures. Ethic studies give students the ability to learn about other cultures and acknowledge that we live in a society full of different people. Arizona is taking away classes that not only teaches about cultures but also the importance that it is okay to see others differently.

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    1. I agree, and I enjoy that you promote the continued studies of other cultures for all people. Its always damaging to the programs and people within them when they’re entered, or centered around, the narrow-minded idea of everything being so simple. There are many types of cultures and many types of opinions belonging to the people in them. To further the integration of appreciation of other people’s perspectives/cultures, we must enter the culture(s) with a clear, open mind and be willing to be subjected to opinions other than our own.

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      1. I would like to say that your last sentence explains it all. Many people are single minded and don’t know how to open up to another culture especially when it’s not their own. We need more people in this world to have an open mind, not only on this topic but on anything.

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    2. Lorena: I hope you would also agree that instead of emphasizing any difference how such differences have been created should be given more importance. For example, saying “more African-Americans are in prison than any other ethnic groups” is obviously a difference between African-Americans and others. But saying “school to prison pipeline (ask me in class) makes African-Americans more vulnerable than others” is beginning to see the context/reason of difference and, therefore, beginning to see the difference in a comprehensive and critical view which is basically one purpose of this class!

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  5. ethnic study’s is about learning different lifestyles, going out of a comfort zone of only your own culture and understanding and learning about different cultures to better learn about the world around us, Arizona should replace the instructors rather than the class, if its not being properly taught.

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    1. Agreed. The class is around for a good reason. If the instructor can’t or doesn’t know how to teach it, the class itself shouldn’t be blamed.

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      1. I feel like the best way to teach about the diversity of our world is not to ignore it instead learn and understand different cultures because like we learned in class our brains do naturally differentiate to set us apart from others it’s apart of what makes us human, changing the mindset of teachers will be more difficult because they are already educated in the field of ethnic study’s and have there own styles of teaching, perhaps the mindset of them is not wrong just the style of there teaching which could be easily manipulated for an more appropriate way.

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      2. Ren, while I agree with you that teaching methods or more individual approaches towards methods, as you said, “teaching styles” may vary, but ethnic studies/women studies teachers are one of the most welcoming people to diversity. They receive training to respect opinions even when they are totally opposite to their own. Having said that, they also place their own opinion and attempt for productive changes in the society.

        The point of conflict in this case is what is productive change from their viewpoint appears threatening from the viewpoint of the authority who wants to ban ethnic studies.

        Finally, I disagree that these teachers because of their education/ training in the field of ethnic studies becomes unchangeable simple because the reverse is true: teachers of Ethnic studies/women studies/gender studies, etc, want one thing: “change”.

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  6. I believe ethnic studies is necessary to understanding the struggle and pain of each others culture and learning how to respect the differences among us. The Arizona school district has no right to terminate the Latino studies because it is displaying that some cultures are not worthy enough or inferior to the traditional European studies. People always assume that ethnic studies courses are about how the white settlers founded America, but without much help from the people are in the United States, like the Chinese who are responsible for building much of the railroads or the Latinos who lost one third of their land to the United States in the late 1800’s. I believe some people do not want to accept the fact that the minorities are no longer small in numbers and are making a tremendous impact on our economy.

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  7. “What do you think the purpose of ethnic studies is?”

    To evaluate the assimilation and segregation of many cultures in a specific region, or set of regions. Ethic Studies is also a program used to convey “race” as a myth, instead of previously believed biological fact (before the 1970s).

    “What assumptions do people make about (the) ethnic studies course?”

    The central focus of ethnic studies will revolve around “White Supremacy.” The course will also focus on the victimization of other cultures, both of the self and by the European-Americans (“Whites”).

    “Why do you think there is backlash against these programs and course?”

    Backlash against Ethnic Studies formulates because, although informative, the course inadvertently promotes the continued segregation of cultures, victimization of other “races” (African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, etc.), and criminalization of European-Americans (“Whites”). The program may also encourage the social expectations revolving around the norms of gender roles, feminism vs misogyny/male supremacy, the empowerment/victimization of the LGBT Community and so on.

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    1. *In addition to above, all people should be able to enjoy and learn from all cultures. The Latino studies should remain in the Arizona School District, but should be regulated, or even re-evaluated, to suit all perspectives of the cultures engaged. For example, they should demonstrate both the Latino and European-American perspectives from the time without criminalizing, or victimizing, either standpoint.

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    2. Rebecca:

      1) Ethnic studies doesn’t evaluate assimilation/segregation but historicize them, contextualize them and also exposes whose interests are maintained, reinforced, justified in the process of assimilation/segregation.

      2) You are right! People assume that ethnic studies is at war against whites when we criticize white supremacy/ privilege like when we criticize male supremacy/ privilege some males (not all!) assume that we will be abolishing males (what an absurd assumption, isn’t it?) from our society.

      3) Again, speaking out against male privilege is NOT segregating males from females. It rather opens up possibility for better understanding along gender lines. Similarly, speaking out against white privilege doesn’t segregate whites from non-whites unless some whites impose/fabricate/imagine that meaning. Rather, it should open up possibility for better understanding along racial lines, and , therefore, end discrimination.

      Ironically, some whites understand this possibility but are only fearful to give up white privilege. They simply prefer “white privilege” to “equality with non-whites” as they believe that racial equality is unjust (people who believe so are called racists) and/or fear that equality will take away their comfort zone. Some males prefer “male privilege” to “equality with females” as they fear that equality is either unjust (people who believe so are called male chauvinists) and/or equality will throw off males from comfort zones. Power is addictive. No wonder, any possibility which may take away power will receive backlash. So, ethnic studies doesn’t inadvertently promote racial or gender segregation. It rather consciously and responsibly attempts to destroy any seeds of segregation.

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  8. i as a student think that it is important to study and look into the different ethnic groups that have been around for hundreds of years, if the white students are only learning about the history of their culture how are they suppose to expand their views on different ethnic groups around the world that have contributed to many aspects of our everyday lives, so I think that it is important to learn about different ethnic groups in order to help us understand and have a clear view of how everyone is viewed as a whole.

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    1. Scott, it is not first white and then extending to other colors! It is altogether a different game!

      There is no white history. History is full of all colors: white, black, yellow, red, pink, you name it! Yes, history is sometime white-washed that hides any color other than white. Ethnic Studies exposes all colors!

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  9. The purpose of ethnic studies is to develop an awareness about other cultures from around the world. It’s important for everyone to know about other cultures. Ethnic studies is a lot like history; both classes aim to teach students about important events that have happened or are currently happening.
    One assumption made about ethnic studies is that that they are only for students of color. Not true. It is important for white kids to take the class to learn some of the issues affecting other cultures. Another assumption is that ethnic studies teaches students to resent whites. When students learn about the American Revolution, they are not told to hate the British. They learn about what happened during that period of time.
    I think there is backlash against these courses because to some extent, the course does victimize other races, which may offend some students. However, the point of the class should be to raise awareness, not point fingers at certain cultures and/or races.

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    1. I definitely agree that ethic studies should be about raising awareness. In todays society it is important to know where we came from as a society. Especially where our beliefs began about different skin color, religion and culutre. Also the reasons why we are labeled by our skin color, and cultural differences. That way students get a better understanding about who they are and others around them.

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  10. I agree with having ethnic studies in schools because I personally enjoy learning about the history of other ethnic groups and it can open people up to new cultures all around. Also there is no way that ethnic study classes are promoting the overthrow of the US government.

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    1. I agree with your support of keeping ethnic studies in schools. This helps promote positive support of each others cultures and builds respect for each others cultures.

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      1. I agree with you Tanya. It is important to respect the different cultures while finding out about them. With this, we can learn from each other and gain knowledge that others have not.

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  11. I do not understand why whites should feel guilty in class about this issues. The main reason why ethnic studies is being taught is to raise awareness of what problem the country has been facing in the past and is now facing in the future. Also ethnic studies is taught to prepare students of this sort of issues when they are faced with this types of the problem in the future. No one is here to judge anyone, it’s just a course to learn more about ethnicity and to face the fact race.

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  12. “Why Ethnic Studies?”
    Comparative Ethnic Studies is being taught in many public schools, not just to create an awareness of the different types of ethnicities, but to bring ethnicities together and to learn about one another from one race to another.
    Often, there are arguments about whether ethnic study groups are designed for only the Latino/a and Asian American descents. Stating that latino’s and Asian American’s are only of interest to one another. This is not true. Taking this course, I have found interest and learned quite a bit in the first week of class.
    Arizona’s ban on Ethnic Studies has only stopped their students from exploring the many cultures throughout the world. Ethnic Studies is much more valuable than a basic history lesson.

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  13. Ethnic studies should be in schools but as I said before, it should not be a requirement to take any sort of ethnic study course. Some do not want to involve themselves with other cultures and that should be fine too. Not everyone wants to participate and that should also be respected.

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    1. Yes!
      Your idea is clear and to the point.
      Many people may not even care enough about race and shouldn’t be required to take any course. It’s all matter of opinion or choice.

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    2. Totally agree. No one should feel the need to learn something that they don’t want to learn about. If they don’t want to learn about other people’s cultures, that’s fine. But it’s good to at least have the opportunity to take a class outside of your comfort zone once in a while. It might become something you could be really interested in after all.

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  14. I firmly believe that this ban is allowing the targeting of a specific group ethnic group. The program is suspected to be instilling a “separatist” agenda, but it is reasonable to believe that the objective of this ban is to oppress the empowerment of this specific group. Banning such a program should cause one to question why a program on a specific ethnicity should be treated any differently than a U.S. history class. Ethic specific classes teach the history and culture of such groups. It is the schools duty to encourage a diverse group of students in these courses, rather than having a group of students pertaining to a single ethnic group. The banning of the Mexican-American studies would signify a direct attempt of oppression, such an act should be fully addressed and discussed. Before the ban is put in full affect, one should evaluate if this ban violates the the phrase “All men are created equal”.

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  15. I’d like to highlight a very important point made in the video which states- everyone who makes up America has made contributions to this country that need to be examined. The truth in this statement elicits not only how ignorant it would be to leave out the study of others history and culture, but also what the true purpose of Ethnic Studies is. The purpose of Ethnic Studies is not to divide kids by race, judge by the color of our skin and not the content of our character, or to derive anti feelings towards Western ideology, but instead it is to realize that we need the knowledge of others and the diversity of opinion in order to truly understand our interconnected history as well as learn how to refrain from repeating our past.
    In America we are comprised of more than one race, history, language, and culture, and I believe it would be detrimental to any progress towards any kind of equality in the United States if we overlooked that truth based on fear of “white guilt” and radical agendas which some people assume is apart of Ethnic Studies.

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  16. I thought this video was very interesting, especially Tomʻs point of view. In a way, I kind of see where he was coming from “teaching students to treat each others as individuals instead of by what ethnicity they were born into”… I mean isnʻt that a part of what an ethnic studies class does? However, I do not agree with him wanting to band ethnic study courses. These courses are not here to segregate ethnicities, itʻs here to educate all ethnicities of different ethnicities. To say that ethnic studies produce “anti-capitalism” and all of that is so far fetched that itʻs ridiculous. Iʻm not a CES major, nor am I White, African American or Latino/Latina. I am full Samoan, and I enjoy these courses because they teach me about other ethnicities. They teach me about the struggles and the problems along with the progess and successes of different ethnicities. I just cannot fathom how this bill was passed…. But thatʻs my own personal opinion and I believe everyone is entitled to their own thinking

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    1. I have a similar opinion on these courses as Tatyana. The point of these ethnicities courses are not to further separate or create negative opinions of other ethnicities. These classes work best when you have multiple students from multiple ethnicities working to understand the course and its value.
      How a state bill banning courses like this is beyond me. Clearly, the faculty involved in teaching these courses were not qualified on top of a stigma that clearly more than just Tom Horne felt.

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    2. I like the last part of Tatyana’s comment about the class “teaching us about the struggles and the problems along with the progress and successes of different ethnicities.” That statement is completely true about this class and that is also why I decided to take the class!

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  17. After watching the video and reading the article, I was concerned about what people really thought about the material taught in an Ethnic Studies course. If an Ethnic Studies course gives students the idea to overthrow the government then that is not a true Ethnic Studies course. I feel that students especially, white can take these courses and become aware of different ethnicity and their background. Just as Marc Lamont Hill mentions, Ethnic Studies were always taught but they mainly focused on European and are now expanding to minority groups. By including other a majority of ethnicity groups, a student can be familiar with history of why a specific group behaves the way they do,

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  18. The purpose of ethnic studies is to show the facts. What our teacher will talk about really did happen and we cannot change that. I’m sure that there has been teachers in past that have taught an ethnic studies class in a horrible way but that does not mean every single class will be the same. Like everything else in life there are a few “bad apples” that can ruin it for everyone else involved.

    But we cannot pretend that the idea of race does not exist. If we have a chance to get educated about this subject maybe we can learn more than we thought and with our new findings we can help other people around us think of race in a better way.

    In all, it depends how the student reacts to this course and what they take away from it. Always keep an open mind, which means letting go of the guilt (if you’re white) or stop acting like victims. We are a new generation that luckily does not have to deal with this clear divide of race (compared to the past) and we should truly enjoy that privilege.

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    1. I really like your last paragraph. It’s so true that everyone needs to just let go of what happened in the past because we are a completely different set of people now, and as long as we stay informed and just accept those around us, then we won’t even need to have this discussion.

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      1. i agree because we’ve grown to a certain extent that we have to live with each other in harmony to proceed in being a dominant country. We have come so far and that conflict in the past needs to go because we are coming to an outbreak to be a society that may not never be divided.

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  19. Ethnic studies are all about facts. Our teacher will be talking to us about events that have happened and we cannot change that. However, I’m sure that there have been horrible teachers that have encouraged divides among different races. But this does not mean that every ethnic studies class will be the same. Like many things in life, there is usually a “bad apple” that may taint a subject for everyone else involved.

    As students we should listen when it comes to courses like this. If we truly learn topic maybe we can help people around us understand race in a different light. We cannot pretend that idea of race does not exist but we can come together as a whole and try to make sense of this confusion.

    In all, we must be open-minded when it comes to how America came about. We must let go of any guilt or any sense of feeling like a victim when it comes to race. We live in a generation where there is not a clear divide on race (compared to the past) and we should truly take advantage of this privilege.

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  20. Before taking this class, I had never considered that the idea of race was, in fact, just an idea. It’s a social classification that we so-called “white folks” created in order to put ourselves at the top of the human race’s pyramid. If you think about it, we’re the only species to create this whole race-within-a-race idea.
    Though we are one of the few species with a conscious mind, able to comprehend complex ideas, we are the only ones who have consistently tried separating our own based on simple factors – things like religion and heritage determined social status. I’m not saying separating human beings in this manner is at all justifiable, but these were tangible ideas. The fact that our race, the human race, has been separating individuals by what I think could be called sub-races. It sounds ridiculous to call them that, but the idea in its entirety is ridiculous, so bare with me. Stating that a person is of a different race due to the color of their skin, and just assuming that your genetic makeup differs because of a few different physical features, is demeaning and unnecessary. Marc Lamont-Hill had said, “I want you to see me as a black person and a person with character and a person who has something to contribute to American democracy.” At this point in our history, the “race” idea has become extremely prominent in our society and, in my opinion, will possibly never go away.

    When Tom Horne discusses his prime examples of the extreme ethnics classes, Lamont backfires with a concept that shouldn’t be too difficult to grasp. When you have students of different ethnicities taking different ethnics courses, then, and only then, do the courses take their effect of opening our minds.

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  21. I believe ethnic studies are around to simply help people appreciate all ethnicities and their cultures. People are reading into things too much to just understand that nothing is wrong with having ethnic classes. Sure, maybe some teachers are doing things inappropriately, but that can be fixed by a change in staff. I think there’s a backlash because of the fact that people are not fully informed or open-minded to learning about other cultures. People in America are scared of the unknown.

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  22. Coming into class Tuesday, I didn’t really know what to expect. As I looked around the room, I noticed that our class was very diverse. I wasn’t really thinking about the color of my skin, but I do often feel like I don’t fit in because I’m half asian. The purpose of ethnic studies is to educate us to accept all races from around the world and understand their background. Anyone should be able to take an ethnic studies class. However, if someone doesn’t feel comfortable with taking it, they shouldn’t be forced to. It’s just more knowledge of other cultures and races that exist in the world. Having two completely different culture backgrounds, it’s easy to support ethnic studies, because it’s important to accept people the way they are.

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  23. After watching this discussion and reading the article, what do you think the purpose of ethnic studies is? What assumptions do people make about ethnic studies course? Why do you think there is a backlash against these programs and course?

    The purpose of ethnic studies is to educate students, of all ethnicities, facts about our history. Before I began taking this course I never knew about the history of race and how we have let it become the primary way we divide among ourselves. The assumptions made about ethnic studies courses are probably along the lines that they are furthering a division among us that so many fought to eliminate, however I believe that the purpose of the class is the opposite. That is not to say that there have not been teachers who have taught the course in such a way that affirms these assumptions, but the original intention of these Ethnic studies courses can provide a great learning experience for all students who take the course.

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  24. After watching the discussion and reading the article, I believe the purpose of ethnic studies is to truly understand and dig deeper within different cultural roots. Although in Arizona schools it may have appeared that only those of a certain race take a specific ethnic studies class (i.e. Japanese students taking an Asian ethnic studies class), it does not necessarily mean that the government will potentially be overthrown, the students will resent whites, etc. This kind of assumption is the reason why all schools should provide an ethnic studies program to inform the students of all different races about the history and the cultures of different ethnic groups. Arizona’s former State superintendent of education Tom Horne failed to recognize other perspectives of the situation to understand that maybe, just maybe, these students may have been Asian, but were apart of a different culture. Physical appearances do not depict what culture we practice. These students could have simply been curious or wanted to explore the culture which they were from. Rather than creating a cultural division, I believe ethnic studies courses are taught to help everyone join in unity, have a better understanding of one another’s culture, and to have an overall great time learning about a different ethnic group.

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    1. I highly agree with you, the fact that such assumptions like, “the government will be overthrown, or the students will resent the whites” is ridiculous. I think you are completely right when you say that those comments are the reason that all races should be included in such classes. Having all races included in these classes in my mind will do nothing but better our sense of each others struggles. I really liked your ideas a lot, and thought this post was one of the most enlightened passages I have read on this blog!

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  25. Ethnic studies is about everyone who has a background. Ethnicity, race, culture, and environment. It is definitely controversial because its hard to see and hear the amount of issues that each race has endured. Personally, I know what to expect. I have taken multi-cultural studies and seen the anger in everyone’s eyes when it comes to topics like, slavery, segregation, and indescribable violence. It is important for us students to understand the country that we live in. Every race has contributed to this country, forcefully and freely. This is why this class is set in place, for us learn what our past generations have done and endured. It doesn’t stop there either, ethnic studies is about now. What is going on with prejudice and racism in the world. This course is an open ended class because there is so much that goes on. It’s up to us to learn from these issues and correct them.

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  26. This video was very interesting due to the fact of both sides were very diverse. Although Tom Horne had some very good points such as when he states ” I believe that the schools should take kids from different backgrounds and teach them to treat each other as individuals and not on the base of what race there were born into” I am leaning more towards the side of Marc Lamont Hill because in the past and over the course of my years of education I have taken multiple ethnic study classes and every single class was very diverse in it and very open. I agree with Lamont Hill in the fact that those teachers our the outliers in Arizona by having specific classes for each race. If your white you should take like an Asian or African American course or if your African American you should take Indian studies so that everyone can get a broader aspect of it and have an overall better understanding of race and our culture.

    I also agree with Ciara Schwab on how if the ethnic study classes in Arizona are actually teaching like that than they should defiantly go about things different and find more appealing teachers to teach the subject the way its suppose to be taught.

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    1. I really like that your post has a lot of points and ideals that I picked up and focused on when I watched the clip and read the article. Such as Toms point that he wants the kids to be individuals and not base it off what race they were born into. Which is a really good point however if you take an ethnic studies class on other races including your own you can create and develop an ideal that is all your own with the facts to back it up; which is a whole lot better than not knowing anything about cultural back grounds at all. I also agree with the statement that you should take an ethnic studies class about different races so that you can understand other cultures.

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  27. After watching this discussion and reading the article, what do you think the purpose of ethnic studies is? What assumptions do people make about ethnic studies course? Why do you think there is a backlash against these programs and course?

    After watching the video and reading the article, I see the purpose of ethnic studies is to teach us all about the world around us and the different cultures that are involved in the way people live. I feel as though these course are a good thing and should be taught because it teaches people about other cultures and they can relate more to different peoples’ ethnic back round. People seem to make a lot of assumptions about these types of courses and most of the assumptions seem to be that the course divides people up based on skin color or their ethnic back round and that it targets certain groups of people. These assumptions are what seem to cause the backlash against these programs because it makes more and more people think they are bad courses and that there is no reason to teach them or have them at any school. I have seen that from just the first two classes of the semester that this course is not like the assumptions given by other people and that it is actually very informational and seems to teach a lot about different ethnicities.

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  28. Ethnic Studies is a class that is designed to help people of all races and beliefs see through each others eyes and help everyone understand each other. It is precisely how Mark put it in the video, “ethnic studies works best when you have white students taking African American studies..etc.” If students can take these classes and understand and learn about their peers it can help them be more open minded and accept everyone instead of pushing everything they don’t understand away. As an added point after watching the clip I noticed that Tom (the Arizona board rep.) had only one point that backed up his statement and that was that the ethnic studies classes created a sort of segregation which is arguable and the only point that he had which he just ended up rewording, where as Mark had multiple counter points. If there are some teachers teaching the students to stand against the American government than these teachers need to be dealt with separately but should not be connected to the ethnic studies program as a whole. If someone does not feel comfortable taking the class than they should have the option to not take it but I believe that it will make students and the younger generations more open minded and willing to accept other people.

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  29. In terms of a central purpose, I believe that of Ethnic Studies is to present the foundations for a working knowledge of cultures different from your own or that which you are comfortable with. Additionally, Ethnic Studies serve as a valuable tool for attaining a better grasp on global behaviors, invaluable in a world where the job market for college graduates becomes increasingly competitive and globalized.

    Furthermore, the consensus on Ethnic studies (from what has been both read and heard in class/ associated material) is that most are taking courses in varying facets of Ethnic Studies within their own race or ethnicity. This suggests that while the purpose of Ethnic studies is to diversify, it can also have the effect of isolating oneself to a particular cultural understanding.

    Additionally, there is an undoubtable backlash towards these types of courses, as they delve deep into the topics/ideas of race and ethnicity, a subject that seems to make some squirm at the thought of open discussion. While the ability to have an intellectual conversation on a host of subjects should hardly beget squirming, the discomfort, in a way, can be understood. Particularly in America, race is and remains to be a hot-button issue in a nation which fought a civil war just 150 years ago over the issue of slavery, with a civil rights movement a century later. It is in my opinion that Americans (such as myself) who are white believe they ought to tiptoe through these issues, as it seems so easy to say the wrong thing in the wrong context. This approach could not be more conducive to the continuation of stereotypical subjection, as it creates an imbalance without any action. Open discussion is key to the true unification of a nation, and it is what will eliminate racism in the United States.

    Lastly, I agree with Anthony Sheets in his take on ethnic studies. He viewed as a method in which we can learn from our past, and thus not allow history to repeat itself. We can only become a greater species by learning fro the transgressions of those who came before us, and use these notions to strive toward a common good.

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  30. The basis of ethnic studies is to broaden the sense of all ethnicity’s to all ethnicity’s, if that makes any sense. I agree entirely with the fact that ethnic studies is for all races white included. If you exclude any races form being able to attend it would almost be advocating racism, I know that may seem extreme but that’s almost a slap to the face of the race. Being a white male that really enjoys learning about other ethnicity’s I would be very upset and offended if I was not given the right to attend such a class. in short I do agree with the statement that its important for all races to have the ability to attended a multi cultural study class.

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    1. I like the first sentence of your post, it is what ethnic studies classes are all about; to make all races aware of other races and where they come from. We all have a history, and it is important to know where and why we come from a certain place. Not only will it broaden the sense of all ethnicity’s, but it will give several different perspectives to other races.

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  31. After watching this discussion and reading the article, what do you think the purpose of ethnic studies is? What assumptions do people make about ethnic studies course? Why do you think there is a backlash against these programs and course?

    The teaching of ethnic studies allows for individuals with different backgrounds to further their understanding and knowledge of other cultures. By understanding each other we are able to better our communication and share different perspectives. It is important to learn about other ethnicities because history of cultures are oftentimes dismissed, and all history is important in order to understand how the worlds population. Oftentimes people believe that ethnic studies courses are for minorities who feel oppressed and want to learn how to feel otherwise. Others believe that they serve no purpose other than to shame white people. It is important to know that this course is not for a specific group of people, it is offered to inform about society and ethnicities. It is apparent that when one is learning about flaws in society and how inevitable discrimination is, one may become upset and take it in the wrong way. The way the information is presented has a great impact of how one may feel. A professor may be biased and cause a student to be influenced by such behavior.

    I agree with Taylor about how it would be unjust to not teach the history of other culture. The U.S. is easily the most diverse country in the world, so it is important the we acknowledge all individuals and their cultures. History should never be exclusive to one ethnic group.

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  32. I believe the overall purpose of ethnic studies is to further understand other peoples cultures and ideals, while at the same time better understanding yourself. You are able to be exposed to scenarios, ideas and diverse people that you wouldn’t have other wise gotten the chance to experience outside of a diversity class. People don’t really know much about what a ethnic studies course goes over, so there opinions are usually vague or not based on facts. I think there is a backlash against diversity courses because in modern day American, the education system values math and science instead of understand the people around us.

    Follow Up Question: Do you think Ethnic studies should be a federal educational requirement for high school and college? why?

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  33. I personally believe that ethnic studies is a class for everyone. We are all made up of different cultures, and considering the fact that we live in the U.S-the most diverse country in the world-we should all have an understanding of different cultures and ethnicity. Being aware of our surroundings and being aware of the things that make up the world is something to think about every day, as it can potentially affect us or others around us. In addition, it can give us an understanding of where we come from, or where others come from. After ‘understanding’ the differences of ethnicity, come different perspectives. Perspectives are what make up our culture and give people a different point-of-view of something, or eventually spark up a new idea to people.

    Overall, I think ethnic studies is a great class for people to take of any ethnicity or race. Taking the class will only expand you knowledge and make you realize how diverse the world is.

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  34. I’m a incoming freshmen to WSU and obviously going to a bigger school then my high school. Which means more diversity, for not just me but for must freshmen at any college. I feel I lack knowledge about our culture and others as well and think CES is a great class to improve those skills. I think ethnic studies should be a required course in every college to show and open the minds of anyone who takes it. This class will give someone who might be biased a different perspective as well. I know it will change mine for the better.

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  35. From the discussion, I interpreted what Tom was saying to mean that they had previously separated the classes by putting the students of different ethnicity into certain classes that specifically covered their ethnicity. This I think is a bad idea and that banning this way of separating students is a good thing. I do not, however, think it is right to ban these classes. There should be a mixed group of students within these classes so that all students can learn about different ethnicities rather than just of their own. The discussion to me didn’t seem like a discussion, but an agreement where either side didn’t realize that they were agreeing with one another.
    After reading the article, I do believe that the author was pretty harsh in defending their side and they really should have tried to understand the opposite viewpoint before attacking it.
    I did also come to realize that I, being white, have felt this “White Guilt” whenever learning about how white people have unfairly treated non white people. I am hoping during the course of this class I will not feel this way, but at the moment, it is the only way I know how to respond.

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  36. personally believe that ethnic studies is a class for basically everyone. We are all made up of different ethnics, backgrounds, and cultures. But as most Americans see color we don’t look to what makes us culturally bias. we did not choose the color we were destined to be so why ridicule it. Ethnic studies is a class to have a better understanding in where you came from, where society places us, and what makes us who we are. For a person who doesn’t fully understand him/herself in Ethnics isn’t that why you came to class anyway? There are no secrets to race there isn’t a perfect race but U.S. society has tried to make it that way. Even Hitler distinguished blue eyes and blonde hair as the perfect race. Ethnic studies just shows us how misleading America is in trying to control things.Especially in racial context. Being African American Ive always been distinguished by athletic ability or in crime senses which is that is that fair or not. But by Ethnic studies i will find out if it fair or unjust.

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  37. Every student should take the course. People today are too engrossed in their own issues, and forget about what other people have gone through and are going though. Being a white female I am guilty of this. Before enrolling in this course I could not tell you much about what people in other cultures have gone through. It has made me look at people in another way. We need to look at society as a community and worry less about our own issues that are not as relevant. Kids today need the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Kids need to grow up knowing the struggles of every race. Kids need to know about what has happened in the world before they existed.

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  38. I found it interesting when Mark brought up the point about other ethnicities making contributions to America that need to be further examined, and that in the past we only closely examined European ethnicities contributions. As well as when Mark said ” for some reason we think that the only way to acknowledge someone’s humanity is to ignore the fact that they have a race.” I found this to be a great statement because he said that he still wants to be acknowledged for being part of his race as well as being acknowledged for his contributions.

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