When Ethnic Studies is Under Attack…
By Irene Sanchez
When Ethnic Studies is under attack, you remember we’ve been here many times before. You carry the lessons of the past to act with the wisdom that has been passed down. This is not the time to turn away from our elders or dismiss our youth, but here is an opportunity to build bridges our communities so desperately need especially in these times of Anti-Mexican/anti-Latina/o/x violence.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack you remember those who came before and paved a way for us to be here now waging this battle to begin with. It is because of them and their sacrifice we can be here now.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack you acknowledge the movement for Ethnic Studies fully and particularly the contributions of young people in the fight for Chicana/o/x, Latina/o/x, Raza, Mexican-American Studies. You recall how the movement was sparked by the youth, and particularly students who decided to blow out of five East LA high schools in March 1968 demanding among other things, classes that reflected their history and culture-demands that spread all over the Southwest including to small cities like Azusa, CA that same year.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack, you remember this movement DID NOT come from any ivory tower. It came from the marginalized, from the ones who weren’t sure they’d make it to college, from the ones who dared to stand up and fight back against all those who claimed their culture and being was inferior and deficient therefore teaching our young people they weren’t worth learning about.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack in 2019 in California you remember that it was less than ten years ago it was banned in Arizona, that many educators who taught it made great sacrifices, more sacrifices than most of us will ever know about. You remember that program in TUSD served as a model for many K-12 Ethnic Studies programs. Mostly you know it was racist to ban it before a judge ruled it racist in 2017.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack you know who is attacking it and call it what it is. When you do you’ll notice a pattern-like in 2019 when Trumps former education advisor writes an op-Ed in the Wall Street journal. You find out he used to work for Pete Wilson, former governor of California and supporter of the racist law, proposition 187, you remain unsurprised.
When Ethnic Studies is under attack, of course you fight back, but you fight forward at the same time. You remember we must always be finding ways to move forward for there is never any going back. There are roads that were paved for us to be here. There are many more roads to be made and we can only do it together because you have to see when Ethnic Studies is under attack, it’s not about any one person, it’s us, ALL of us who are committed to equity and social justice and to our young people who not only deserve these classes, but need them. We know, those who have taken these courses, or learned this history outside of a formal education setting, knowing our history and culture is a matter of life and death.
That is why we fight.
That is why we will never give up for they aren’t just fighting against a class or curriculum, but the right to define who we are.
It’s time we claim what has always been ours.
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