Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ethnic Studies banned in AZ

I saw this clip of AC 360 over at Immigration talk with a Mexican American. Great blog, check it out. Sigh, I really don't know what to say anymore about what is going on in AZ. Part of me understands that there is a problem in AZ and that people are fed up about it. Nothing has happened, so they've taken it upon themselves to fix those problems. The problem with that is that some of these people shouldn't be the ones making these calls. It's like all of a sudden, people in AZ are calling out anything that isn't "American" or promotes the ideals of "America." Those ideals and values of course being changed and reworded to promote whatever change they're trying to make so they can say they have the values of America in mind when enacting these laws.

One of the main arguments that Tom Horn uses is that "Raza" studies does nothing but teach kids that they are oppressed and to feel like shit, more or less. He also mentions that once kids take these classes, they become problematic because in classes they are taught to be proud of their race. His argument, more or less, is that school systems shouldn't teach ethnic studies because it doesn't promote unity within the educational system. While his points maybe some what true and not complete BS pulled out of a hat, if regular school curriculum incorporated the history taught in these ethnic studies classes, then they wouldn't be needed right ?

Before I took my first Chicano/a Studies class, I avoided them because I didn't want to be know as a Chicano or associated with them. I wash brain washed and conditioned to the mainstream curriculum. I always saw people taking those kid of classes as the flamboyant, prideful and head strong individuals who were all about their race/ethnicity and fuck everyone else. Never knowing anything about my own culture, I was ignorant as to what it really meant to be in a Chicano/a studies class and the things one learned.

I took my first class in 2009, two years after I saw The Cheech Marin Collection on exhibit. I found my way to Chicano/a studies through art, that's why my first class was about Mexican art and the Big three, Rivera, Siqueros and Orozco and other artist that made tremendous impacts with their works. After I took that class I took another class that introduced me to critical race theory and the study of society and what not. In that class I did realize how "oppressed" I am and how institutionalized a person can be in the educational system. In that class, I didn't learn to be prideful of my race, to oppose the government or mainstream society, as others would have you believe.

In that class I learned to critically think and analyze the world I live in, the system that governs us and to be mindful of the exploitation that happens to people who don't know any better and aren't self aware. In Chicano/a studies, I learned that while America has a history of oppressing different people, not just Latino/s. I learned that the system works best for those who happen to be of male, white privilege, something that has been happening in since the dawn of man, but that doesn't mean that there aren't successful Latinos/as. By learning about the history of Mexican Americans and American history in high school/middle school, I have a great view of both sides as they happened and how they were recorded differently. Banning ethnic studies is just plain stupid and riding on these anti-Latino/a trends that are happening. Next thing you know, AZ is gonna ban all Mexican food in the state.          


loveandhatela said...

its actually some scary shit whats going on in AZ its like some sort of "new germany" -now a ban on ethnic studies

bordersaside said...

Im so glad you embraced those classes, I can tell you my kids will not grow up with there American culture and it will have to be taught them. I hope they can learn to embrace both cultures.

Anonymous said...

You atart with:
"the main arguments that Tom Horn uses is that "Raza" studies does nothing but teach kids that they are oppressed and to feel like shit, more or less"

go on to write:
"his points maybe some what true and not complete BS"

"In that class I did realize how "oppressed" I am".

-You, RH, are exactly what this guy is stating. Students are being taught and brainwashed into believing that they are oppressed. Look in the mirror and know that even though Mr. Horn doesn't know you, he has known kids like you. Mr Horn has pinpointed the root of where you base your ideology.

You have been lied to and been told that you are oppressed, you have fell for it hook, line and sinker. But unfortunately it doesn't stop there. You take your acquired "knowledge" and you base who you are as a person on the belief that

"while America has a history of oppressing different people, not just Latino/s...the system works best for those who happen to be of male, white privilege".

- It's funny that you started the last quote i mentioned, with, "In Chicano/a studies, I learned that... " I don't know if you are stating that you were simply taught that or if you truly believe it. If you truly believe then I feel sorry for you, because you walk around spending every waking moment, believing that you are a "victim" to a "white male" dominated system.

you finish off with:
"something that has been happening in since the dawn of man."

- I'm going to assume you wrote this sentence as a figure of speech. In case you didn't;

a)if you believe in the theory of origins of species, you would know that supposedly the "white man" was the last to evolve, therefore making your point moot because colored skin existed first, or...

b) if you believe in creation, you point is still moot because creation and the population started in the modern day middle east, and we know for sure they are not considered "white people".

On a side note,I have been reading your blog for some time now and I comment on here frequently. From your writings I can tell that you have been lied to and have been told that you are a victim. I can tell that you believe that you are stuck in a system that by design is against you.

But let me tell you, that type of thinking is nothing new. I have met many like you and have had conversations on this exact topic face to face. Some are aware of where this "class struggle" mentality has come from, some not. I hope you find out where it comes from soon, because before you meet someone waaay smarter than me to counterpoint your position, you would want to try and defend the foundation to your ideology. The statements you have written about what you learned in your chicano/a studies class are dangerous, racist and inflammatory political rhetoric, that if you step out of the LAEastside or the progressive haven that is academia, making such strong claims can get you in a lot of hot water.

You will find that this type of thinking is what is leading to the divisiveness and polarization of the country, especially in race relations, leading to no real progress.

No te sorprendas si encuentras paisanos que tambien denuncian la idea de que somos victimas perpetuas.

Anonymous said...

@ERH - sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she's ok.

@Anonymous - technically, ERH is oppressed because he doesn't have the same rights as a legal resident or a citizen of the US. I know by "you" you are talking about Mexican Americans in general, but, if you're addressing him specifically, then, yes he is oppressed in specific ways.

Second, the things taught in college are hardly "dangerous" if they've been taught in college for a long time. Ethnic studies has been taught for decades. It has some connection to sociology and Marxism, and those things have been taught for around 150 years, and actually emerged from colleges. Very little that's been taught in college has been dangerous.

The roots of ethnic studies is African American studies. The roots of that are the intellecutals of the abolitionist movement, like Fredrick Douglass and Sojurner Truth.

This strain of politics has always sought to gain civil rights for people so that we can have equal rights under the law. That has always meant challenging and dismantling white privilege by changing the laws that construct privilege.

So, while ethnic studies might be "dangerous" to white male privilege, it's salutary to the development of popular democracy.

Teaching people they have been oppressed is not dangerous. If anything they know it already but don't have the mental tools to escape the oppression - or more simply, the oppressed are not taught how the system works, and at some level believe their situation is unchangeable. (Or changeable in only small ways.)

For example, a lot of people believe they have to work hard and they'll get ahead. They're wrong - that's oppressed thinking - you need to work smart, combining hard work with specialized knowledge.

Smart people think that being smart is enough - like it's enough to be a teacher or engineer or a technical worker - but that's not enough either. You need to fit into a larger structure and work within the structure to attain influence and power.

Careerists think that advancing on a career ladder is enough, but it isn't. You need to also be politically engaged to affect the larger structure of society. That means understanding the structure of government and social institutions.

Ethnic studies just takes undergrads who might be at that first stage of understanding, and explains all the way through to the last stage - but does it via the history of a minority group.

The alternative to ethnic studies can be found by looking at some pre-Ethnic Studies or out-of-academie formations. The largest and most well known is the Marcus Garvey organization UNIA. His idea was that oppression of Blacks in America was so total that the only path to freedom was for Blacks to go to Africa.

Another formation is regional gangs, like the Mafia or the various Los Angeles gangs. Lacking access to political power, these organizations form quasi-state structures with military, economic, and social services.

Yet another formation are ethnic-regional associations, like the Chinese family name societies. These were clubs that linked business, social service, and sometimes gang/paramilitary "law enforcement" together into a society that existed largely apart from the mainstream society.

Ethnic Studies has studied and even valorized all these different alternative forms of social organization, but, by and large, students who take Ethnic Studies courses end up participating in mainstream politics, in mainstream integrationist groups, and generally attempt to pull their ethnic communities into the mainstream, get people to go to college, and have choices of a career (and have a career instead of just a job), and be involved in politics.