What is Ethnic Studies?
Ethnic Studies is an academic discipline that critically examines the cultural, economic, political, and social experiences of Native American, Black/African American, Chicana/o and Latina/o, and Asian American people in the United States. Ethnic Studies courses are developed and delivered by educators who reflect and represent the perspectives of our nation’s diverse racial and ethnic groups. These courses are designed to foster intersectional analysis and cross-cultural understanding among both students of color and white students, and aids students in valuing their own cultural identity while appreciating the differences around them. (National Education Association, 2020)
History of Ethnic Studies
The Ethnic Studies Movement catalyzed in 1968-69 as a result of the initial activism by Black students in the Black Student Union at San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) who demanded higher representation and admission rates for African Americans. Asian and Latina/o students, who were also fighting for the same things, joined forces with the Black Student Union and organized into the Third World Liberation Front. In an effort to expose systemic racism, discrimination, marginalization, and educational inequity, the five-month strike of the Third World Liberation Front became the longest student strike in U.S. educational history and led to the establishment of a new College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State. This opened the doors for creation of Ethnic Studies Departments throughout the state and nation as well.
Return of a Legacy
Directly following the wave of the Ethnic Studies Movement, the first Ethnic Studies courses at Delta College were offered in 1970-71. Classes such as Afro-American History, Mexican Civilization, and Filipino History solidified Delta as a foundational and progressive Ethnic Studies campus! Moreover, Delta offered Ethnic Studies degree programs for students to obtain an AA in Black Studies, Chicano/Mexican Studies, and Filipino Studies. The year 2022 marks the return of the Ethnic Studies Department to a long-lasting legacy of this empowering and transformational field of study!
Ethnic Studies Core Competencies
- Analyze and articulate concepts such as race and racism, racialization, ethnicity, equity, ethno-centrism, eurocentrism, white supremacy, self- determination, liberation, decolonization, sovereignty, imperialism, settler colonialism, and anti-racism as analyzed in any one or more of the following: Native American Studies, Black/African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Chicana/o and Latina/o American Studies.
- Apply theory and knowledge produced by Native American, Black/African American, Asian American, and/or Chicana/o and Latina/o American communities to describe the critical events, histories, cultures, intellectual traditions, contributions, lived-experiences, and social struggles of those groups with a particular emphasis on agency and group-affirmation.
- Critically analyze the intersection of race and racism as they relate to class, gender, sexuality, religion, spirituality, national origin, immigration status, ability, tribal citizenship, sovereignty, language, and/or age in Native American, Black/African American, Asian American, and/or Chicana/o and Latina/o American communities.
- Critically review how struggle, resistance, racial and social justice, solidarity, and liberation, as experienced, enacted, and studied by Native Americans, Black/African Americans, Asian Americans and/or Chicana/o and Latina/o Americans are relevant to current and structural issues such as communal, national, international, and transnational politics as, for example, in immigration, reparations, settler-colonialism, multiculturalism, language policies.
- Describe and actively engage with anti-racist and anti-colonial issues and the practices and movements in Native American, Black/African American, Asian American, and/or Chicana/o and Latina/o communities to build a just and equitable society.
Ethnic Studies Graduation Requirement
In 2020 Governor Newsom made history by signing AB 1460 which requires college students to complete at least one 3-unit Ethnic Studies course. California is the first state in the nation to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement. Ethnic Studies courses are now a graduation requirement for your AA degree and/or for CSU. This requirement can be completed either at a community college or at a CSU.