Student's perspective on Ethnic Studies

 

Nov_18_-_crowd_shot_on_Beaudry_steps_-_Revo_Grafia.jpg

Ethnic Studies as a Requirement

By Tatei Torres Thomas. Image credit: Revo Grafia

Hamilton High School is located in West Los Angeles just on the edge of Los Angeles and Culver City. The demographic of the school is mostly Latino and African-American students with a small population of White, Asian, Middle Eastern and other ethnic groups. Hamilton High School sits on South Robertson in a neighborhood of mixed family incomes: from middle class families living in apartments and houses to wealthy families living in larger houses or multiple story houses to poorer families renting houses or apartments. Hamilton High School is made up of six academies: Math and Medical Science, Business and Technology, Communication Arts, Global Studies, Music, and Humanities. The Humanities Magnet is well known for producing elite students with high test scores and grade point averages, who get in elite schools. But as a junior in the Humanities magnet I now realize the Humanities magnet is not all it's cut out to be.

           It has taken me three years in the Humanities Magnet to realize the blind faith we have put in our magnet. We constantly have propaganda floating through our minds about how we are educationally superior and support integration from people of all races. The magnet was established in 1981 to address the inequities that resulted from segregation. Arriving in the ninth grade I had complete faith in what I was learning, not questioning any of it. Three years later in the magnet I realize how really segregated and how euro centric we are even though we claim to accept and support all races. There is no need for a statistic to inform us that the majority of the Humanities magnet curriculum is based on white male’s literary work, art, and history; walking into any classroom it’s a given. So why is it a magnet claiming to be in support of integration and acceptance mostly educating its students about white men’s authority?

           It has taken me three years in the Humanities Magnet to realize the blind faith we have put in our magnet. We constantly have propaganda floating through our minds about how we are educationally superior and support integration from people of all races. The magnet was established in 1981 to address the inequities that resulted from segregation. Arriving in the ninth grade I had complete faith in what I was learning, not questioning any of it. Three years later in the magnet I realize how really segregated and how euro centric we are even though we claim to accept and support all races. There is no need for a statistic to inform us that the majority of the Humanities magnet curriculum is based on white male’s literary work, art, and history; walking into any classroom it’s a given. So why is it a magnet claiming to be in support of integration and acceptance mostly educating its students about white men’s authority?

            In our English classes we read and analyze how white males viewed the world. In our history classes we see how white men’s decisions changed the world. In art history 80% of what we learn is European, leaving only 20% to all the other cultures that make up our world. We rarely read about how minority males, women, or just women in general saw their world at the time. We rarely read what they thought, what it was like to be on the other side of the white male. We don’t learn about the Cold War’s affect on Cuba, the Apartheid Movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s, or the Xinhai Revolution in 1911. We do research projects on non-white cultures to learn about their scared spaces instead of spending precious class time.

            The humanities is supposed to be the learning of human culture, of all human cultures in the terms of literature, history, and art. The humanities is held at the highest regard for its elite students, but it is failing as its core. The humanities is failing to support and integrate all races. Although our teachers do try to provide us with some diversity, most of what we learn is still very euro centric. But how do expect our teachers to teach us with a more diverse perspective when they weren’t taught the same way? How we expect our students to want to learn if their own cultures aren’t even being regarded?

            On November 18th LAUSD ruled yes on having Ethnic Studies as a requirement for the graduating class of 2019. Both students and teachers alike marched around the Beaudry building holding signs and chanting “What do we want? Ethnic Studies! When do we want it? Now!” Cheers from all directions were heard when announced Ethnic Studies would be a required course. As just an anonymous onlooker it must be a sight to see students actually protesting for another class to take. However Ethnic Studies is a class served as a method to stop the oppression of minorities in the terms of education. Ethnic Studies is a class which breaks the barriers of racial injustice in our education system. Ethnic studies prepares students for a world where not only white males hold the power, but for a world where minority men and women also hold power. It broadens the minds of our young students to other cultures, other struggles besides the one of the white man.

            Ethnic Studies is a huge win for those looking for racial justice in our education system but this is only a step in a long road of redemption. The Ethnic Studies course requirement for the graduating year of 2019 is only a 20 week course oppose to English and history which is taken all four years of high school. If other races’ literature and history were incorporated into the curriculum there wouldn’t be a need for ethnic studies but it isn’t, therefore Ethnic Studies should be taken along with regular history and English classes just as long as those classes stay euro centric based just as they have always been. The world we live in isn’t solely made of white males, so it’s time to stop teaching as it if is.
 

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  • commented 2014-12-16 12:55:27 -0800
    Thank you for this.
  • commented 2014-12-14 19:21:46 -0800
    Great reflection. It’s important to hear the student perspective, especially the student of color. Administrators often do not act without pressure. Students of color most often do not have the wealth and influence to influence administrators, but we have NUMBERS, and we must exercise those numbers… I share your enthusiasm Tatei… Ethnic Studies Now!
  • published this page in blog 2014-12-12 20:35:42 -0800

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