End the Fear. End the Tension. Ethnic Studies Requirements Now!

California State University of Los Angeles (CSULA) students started pushing to expand ethnic studies as a GE requirement last month.

For students here at UCLA, I similarly encourage action towards ending the fear of ethnic knowledge and the ending of racial tension. Both are intertwined. My belief is that the lack of knowledge and lack of exposure for different cultures perpetuates racism. Like the student action at CSULA, students at UCLA ought to advocate for ethnic studies requirements for all students attending UCLA. In my perspective, all students ought to take at least two to three ethnic studies courses.

After learning about the struggle and the oppression people of color have experienced in an Anglo dominated country, students will be knowledgeable in the unique experience of people of color. Unity with diversity starts with exposure. It continues with education. Ethnic studies courses focus on the experience of one group of people. Similar to how traditional American history emphasizes male European Americans, while Africans and African Americans are often referred to in textbooks as indentured servants and slaves, indigenous people referred to as “Indians,” savages, and primitive. It is no wonder why students feel it is okay to make sexist slurs and racial epithets towards people of color. All they know is an unbalanced history of the Americas. Every cultural experience brings light to different music, art, food, languages, and successes. American History (this includes the history of North and South America) has a variety of that.

It is time for action. Too often, minority communities stand pensive and in defense. The time has come when a strategy of action must be implemented to end racial tension and racism, not with weapons but with knowledge. Yes, I want every student to learn the history of Chicano/as, and the history of African Americans, and the history of Asian Americans in the name of unity with diversity. It is our story as the people of the United States. ¡Que haya luz! Let there be light!


Miguel Martinez

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