Having Ethnic Studies options for students, especially in America, is important because in general if you grow up in the United States, the history you learn in elementary, middle school, high school, and even college is very centered around the White experience with people of color, other ethnicities, or minorities used purely as a way to propel the narrative for how it has affected a person who is considered White. Like Alison Harrington stated in the video, “I also think it’s important to have to see the histories of people of color, because we only get one history and that’s the history of white people,” (Alison Harrington, 14:30 min., On Strike).
I would argue that Ethnic Studies is a civil rights issue for students because it goes beyond what is learned in the classroom. The knowledge of different races, ethnicities, and genders/gender identities impacts society as a whole. An ethnic studies program not only helps spread awareness of other histories besides that of White (usually male) Europeans’ but gives those who are Asian, African American, Latino/a, women, LGBTQ a voice and a sense of belonging and acknowledgment of their identities. It is important to feel represented and acknowledged as a person and a person who has a different history. Like Isabel Pulido stated, “Ethnic Studies means to me to look, to read a book and to see that it’s talking about me. To see that it’s talking about other people of color and their real histories. It means to reclaim my space as a woman as well as a lesbiana of color here in this country,” (Isabel Pulido, 14:50 min., On Strike). The lack of awareness and education about minority groups and ethnicities, fosters an idea that minority groups are less than that of their White counterparts. The lack of representation of others promotes racism and acts of discrimination because it is easy to point the finger of blame to someone who does not have a voice and who is underrepresented.
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