Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.
College is meant to be the epi-center of uncomfortable conversations, meeting people we normally wouldn’t and learning about the world. How does one go through college and not participate in education regarding the systemic oppression impacting those around you?
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber proposed Assembly Bill 1460, which requires all enrolled California State University students take a 3-unit ethnic studies course.
Governor Newsom signed the bill on Aug 17.
This was a monumental decision to be made because ethnic studies require students to learn about various cultures’ histories, struggles and successes.
Since we were in grade school, we learned about Christopher Columbus discovering America, that Thanksgiving was when the pilgrims and Native Americans sang kumbaya while eating turkey and potatoes, and that George Washington had wooden teeth. The history we were taught when we were younger was just one point of view, one perspective, and that was the white man’s point of view.
I didn’t even learn about my own Black history until I attended college and took an African-American History course. That’s when I learned that Christopher Colombus did, in fact, not discover America, because he never made it to what is now considered America. He came across the Caribbean and was rescued by the natives because he was found drowning. I think we all know what he did after that. The first Thanksgiving was pretty much the pilgrims killing the majority of the native Indians, pillaging their land and then having a feast on it. Now George Washington’s teeth? They were actually made of hippo ivory and his own slave’s teeth. Great guy.
Taking ethnic studies courses will force you to unlearn the lies you were taught growing up and relearn the facts, the stories, the culture and how it all impacts these groups today. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that people of color had a history of oppression that still takes place to this day. Denial of that is pure ignorance.
We need ethnic studies more than ever. With various protests going on nationwide, there should be no excuse as to why you wouldn’t know what each one stands for. From Black Lives Matter movements to ICE detention centers, and from racist COVID-19 statements to Indigenous lands being destroyed, we need to acknowledge what has been happening and understand that it is not okay. This is where the necessary education comes in.
Lucky for us, Humboldt State University has an amazing ethnic studies program run by phenomenal professors. From the introductory courses to the Dialogue on Race, having these conversations are extremely important and should have been mandatory a long time ago.