Guest host Aaron Pete interviews Daniel Ortner, lawyer for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, about its suit against DEI regulations in California
Hi Aaron, I enjoyed your episode of the podcast and will look for yours 'out there'!
I am all for DEI. However, as with many other issues, the fundamental conflict is in the definitions of those words. I am a member of a very diverse, egalitarian, and socially-included church. None of those things needs to be mandated. We just love each other.
I have noticed that those who are loudest in the voicing of those words in public are not practicing it in reality. Is this another real-life example of the imposition of the fictional "newspeak," notably from George Orwell's 1984?
This is a syllabus intro to a REQUIRED Ethnic Studies class my son has to take as required for acceptance into a business degree program at a California State university. It is 100% political indoctrination.
Why Ethnic Studies?
As Ethnic Studies has recently become a requirement for the California State University (CSU) system, and soon the University of California (UC) system, California Community Colleges (CCC), and California high schools, more attention has been placed on Ethnic Studies. I find that most of my community college students don’t know what Ethnic Studies is and may have misconceptions about this discipline that’s over 50 years old. We hope that this Open Educational Resource (OER) put together by six Ethnic Studies instructors will illuminate some of the misunderstandings and mischaracterizations of our beloved discipline. We also hope that this resource will contribute to a new generation of students who will be inspired by the histories, cultures, philosophies, and stories represented in this resource.
Perhaps due to fear or ignorance, or sometimes straight up racism, for as long as Ethnic Studies has existed, there have been efforts to ban, diminish, criticize or censure our programs and curriculum. We’ve been accused of being “Mickey Mouse” or told that Ethnic Studies is not a serious or viable discipline. We’ve also been accused of indoctrinating our students and of spreading hate, or that we are anti-white.
Such attacks on Ethnic Studies teachers, students, classrooms, and curricula are usually baseless, rooted in the very systems of oppression we teach our students about: white supremacy, settler colonialism, and the intersections of racial capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. For practitioners and students who’ve actually taken an Ethnic Studies class, such allegations are confusing, because many of us have found Ethnic Studies to be sites of empowerment, love, joy, and discovery, having made lifechanging impacts for generations of students. That’s why it’s no accident that Ethnic Studies became the first and only legislatively backed general education requirement in California. As a result, Ethnic Studies courses will be taught in high schools, community colleges, and the 4-year university systems in this “minority-majority” state.
The advocacy for the Ethnic Studies requirement spans decades of organizing by students, teachers and professors who set up meetings, conversations, wrote letters, developed curriculum, and more, on top of having full-time positions or working multiple part-time jobs, caring for their families, writing books and articles, and/or organizing in various communities. Legislation such as AB 1460 and AB 101 establishing the Ethnic Studies requirement in the CSUs and high schools finally passed because we had multiple studies and data to prove the efficacy of our curricula: raising student attendance, graduation, and success rates, including in classes other than Ethnic Studies. Ethnic Studies has been a proven strategy to tackle racial inequity in schools. More importantly, studies expressed the personal impact of Ethnic Studies on our students’ sense of identity and belonging, highlighting the lasting impression of seeing oneself in the curriculum.
Ethnic Studies came out of struggle and for the past five decades our discipline has always been in a place of contention, so whatever iteration of hate or misjudgement is not new. For those familiar with Ethnic Studies, we know the powerful impact our classroom and curricula have and we have influenced both personal and larger societal, cultural, and political transformations.
Obviously, this scares people who have invested in the status quo and internalized ideologies based on hierarchical structures of social status, and access to power and resources.
For many of us, Ethnic Studies is our lifeline. Ethnic Studies saved us. Ethnic Studies is home. And we are not scared easily. We know too well how precious our curricula and classrooms can be and we will not be intimidated nor silenced. We understand that too much is at stake.
Ethnic Studies classrooms, and often our offices after class, have been small spaces of sanctuary, exploration of emotions, rediscoveries of memories we’ve suppressed, for both the instructors and our students. A class like “Intro to Ethnic Studies” can be a site of acknowledgement for the denigrating treatment students receive at work, or they are finally given space to reflect on the internalized effects of colorism on their self-esteem, or students may express cathartic anger that the racially segregated
neighborhoods they grew up in have been designed with purpose and targeted for police surveillance and violence.
I value the discussions in class and with students one-on-one within the small quarters of my office or classroom, where they express and address challenges that come with being undocumented, for example, or being mixed race, experiencing abuse, or navigating their mental health. I am especially inspired when witnessing each student’s process of uncovering the personal right along with the political.
Thank you Tara Henley, for providing me the opportunity to host the Lean Our Podcast! I learned so much from the experience, and have found new ways to improve my interviewing style.