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Watch the video: Latina+Jewish American high school senior explains how taking an Ethnic Studies course changed her life

Who is Ethnic Studies?

People have been sending in their #iamethnicstudies selfies and meaningful descriptions of what Ethnic Studies means to them. Below is a gallery with some of these pics. Share yours today!

Don’t just take our word for it…

Our petition has received hundreds of powerful, encouraging comments. Honoring the 50 year anniversary of Ethnic Studies, below are 50 of those comments.

  1. “I believe in the power of Ethnic Studies” – Alyeska Gutierrez of San Francisco, CA on 9/9/2019
  2. “Ethnic Studies saved my life and put me on a path to save my community.” – Aldrich Sabac of Stockton, CA on 9/19/2019
  3. “I’m signing this because ethnic studies transformed my life and created a pathway for many students to find purpose in their education. As an elected official for Daly City, it was ethnic studies that provided the political framework to engage my community to become politically involved and to provide a historical context of why it is important.” – Roderick Daus-Magbual of Daly City, CA on 9/4/2019
  4. “Keep Ethnic studies curriculum as written, and center the experiences of native peoples and POC which have never been centered in public education. Those attempting to center their own experiences over those represented in the current curriculum need to reflect on why they want to impose a change that would reverse and dilute the content pushing out the stories that have been untold.” – Aixa Rodriguez of Bronx, NY on 9/16/2019
  5. “Groups that have very little experience with the fight for ethnic studies are delaying a vital process. Ethnic studies should be lead by those who fought hard and have done the leg work to develop the curriculum and pedagogy. The CA department of education has to follow the lead of experienced ethnic studies educators, and not delay this life changing curriculum.” – Ricardo Mata Vazquez of Goleta, CA on 9/5/2019
  6. “I’m signing because I didn’t get it at first. I’m a cisgender white Jewish woman and I already see myself represented. Ethnic Studies curriculum is vital for those who don’t.” – Michelle Call of San Luis Obispo, CA on 9/10/2019
  7. “I am a graduate of ethnic studies from UC Berkeley and my education made me a more tolerant and aware human being. We need this for all our students!” – Aracelia Alvarez of LA, CA on 9/4/2019
  8. “I am an educator at the SFUSD and I have personally witnessed the positive impact Ethnic Studies has on my middle school students. It has empowered students to speak up when injustice have arisen and taught them to empathize for others.” – Maria Sanchez of San Francisco, CA on 9/5/2019
  9. “Ethnic Studies influenced me to help and be a part of the community that raised me” – Lorenzo Finau-Cruz of San Francisco, CA on 9/19/2019
  10. “This is a matter of life and death for so many of California’s children and youth.” – Liz Murray of San Francisco, CA on 9/5/2019
  11. “I want my people’s history to be something my future kids get to learn about.” – Lupita Amaton of Santa Ana, CA on 9/8/2019
  12. “Ethnic studies is a key to understanding people of all walks of life” – Victor Eco of Daly City, CA on 9/5/2019
  13. “As a teacher I have seen how important it is for students to see their histories and cultures represented in school curriculum.  This is something students care about and we need to support them!” – Julie Van Winkle of Los Angeles, CA on 9/5/2019
  14. “Because of ethnic studies, I have a career!! It’s our education; we are paying millions of dollars for us to be able to decide what we want to learn.” – Oscar Hernandez of San Francisco, CA on 9/5/2019
  15. “Ethnic Studies is the reason I get up and go to school. I’m always excited to learn and engage in intellectual conversations in those classes, I hope many other people continue to learn.” – Stephanie Gonzalez of San Francisco on 9/5/2019
  16. “My ethnic studies courses gave me tools to be critically aware, developed my consciousness and validated my experiences as an immigrant Pinay queer woman of color.” – Sharon Chia Claros of Los Angeles, CA on 9/11/2019
  17. “My son is in 9th grade and his entire educational career he’s just had a hard time engaging with the curriculum, because it is not reflective of his historical experience. I’ve had to teach him history at home and taxpayers deserve a better education than that for their children.” – Julie Corrales of San Diego, CA on 9/9/2019
  18. “As a Hmong Asian American female, I am signing this petition because I was a victim who suffered in the hands of bullying in the form of Racism in high school. I wish I had the correct tools, terms, and knowledge to mentally deal with and understand the feelings and the situation I was going through during that point of time. If there was an Ethnic Studies course during that time of my life, I feel like I would’ve had closure and a healthier emotional state. I am currently taking an Ethnic Studies course in college and I really wish I had this resourceful course in high school. Including Ethnic Studies as a course for students in grade school is highly beneficial and I personally believe that it will mentally stimulate and challenge students to think critically and open-mindedly about our world today and better prepare them for college and for their future. It could also help them cope with Racism in the school environment as well. Please help sign this petition! Thank you.” – Ashlenily Xiong of Sacramento on 9/18/2019
  19. “I’m an ethnic studies teacher in Berkeley Ca and I’ve seen it change my students’ perspectives, both for students of color and white students.” – Rebecca Villagran of Oakland, CA on 9/4/2019
  20. “Ignorance creates violence. Knowing each other better will create understanding and respect” – M Gloria Hernandez of Fresno, CA on 9/5/2019
  21. “Let’s counter hate with rightful representation … truth is illuminating” – Janet Lucy of Santa Barbara, CA on 9/10/2019
  22. “The movement for ethnic studies is based on specific pedagogical praxis.  These are what drove the authors of these to create what they did.  These are proven to improve student success.  Anything else will fail.” – Jose Maldonado of Canyon Country, CA on 9/8/2019
  23. “I’m signing because it’s long overdue.” – Laura Santos of Bassett, CA on 9/4/2019
  24. “Students of color deserve to see themselves in school curriculum.” – Jennifer Rakowski of Oakland, CA on 9/11/2019
  25. “One of the most important elements of self-esteem, pride and confidence is knowledge of self, that is, knowledge of one’s ancestors and history.” – Jesús Nieto of La Mesa, CA on 9/10/2019
  26. “Ethnic Studies has long been drawn to a stand, made wait. It’s time that we take a stand and we cannot wait no more. Every step taken is accompanied by our ancestors! #saveEthnicStudies #indefenseofES” – Alejandro Juarez-Ugalde of Los Angeles,  on 9/4/2019
  27. “California is economically the strongest state in the USA and it is based on growing ethnically diverse population.  Ethnic studies will make it stronger in the future years and make it a well worth investment.” – Xavier Guzman of Fresno, CA on 9/4/2019
  28. “It’s a disgrace we are not teaching up to date and authentic ethnic studies curriculum to each and every child across all schools in every community. I am positive we would also see less discipline problems if this is in our schools.” – Margaret Morghen of San Diego, CA on 9/4/2019
  29. “I teach Ethnic Studies and have seen my students become empowered by the curriculum.” – Carina Alejo of Riverside, CA on 9/4/2019
  30. “I have seen Ethnic Studies transform students of color to being a lot more confident in the education world at community college.” – Maya Ito of San Lorenzo, CA on 9/4/2019
  31. “My experiences in Ethnic Studies classes were instrumental to me and have led me to the work I do now.” – Esmeralda Flores of Long Beach, CA on 9/4/2019
  32. “Ethnic studies in college gave voice to my experiences growing up as a young woman of color in America. It’s helped define who I am today.” – April Veneracion of Oakland, CA on 9/18/2019
  33. “Since I was never introduced to Ethnic Studies material in grade-school –despite the occasional paragraph in History textbooks, which gave an inaccurate colonial perspective on the matter– I was ultimately led to believe that I did not belong in educational institutions, as a Mexican American. If I was taught my own history constructed by my OWN culture, I would have been exposed to the events that contributed to my cultural assimilation, and been given the tools to prevent my own internalized racism –influenced by the curriculum was taught to me. Ethnic Studies needs to be integrated as a mandatory course in grade-school, as a repercussion to the negative effects that victims of colonization unknowingly express!” – Alejandro Reyes of Norwalk, CA on 9/5/2019
  34. “Education should be rooted in the real world and young people of color need to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. As a Puerto Rican Jew I fully support the curriculum.” – Aurora Levins Morales of Tomales, CA on 9/4/2019
  35. “Ethnic Studies is also Restorative Justice.” – Tanya Suzuki of Torrance, CA on 9/16/2019
  36. “Tenemos que defender nuestra derecho para decirte nuestras historias, las historias de nuestra verdad.” – Cathi Gutíerrez of Modesto, CA on 9/7/2019
  37. “It is necessary for all our students to have access to their history, since all of our history created America.” – Yazmin Doroteo of Vista, CA on 9/4/2019
  38. “I’m signing because it’s absurd that we even have to defend such teachings” – denise ybarra of San Diego, CA on 9/4/2019
  39. “Ethnic studies should be mandatory at all grade levels!” – Delia Cantú of Santa Maria, CA on 9/8/2019
  40. “NO HISTORY, NO SELF. KNOW HISTORY, KNOW SELF” – Wilber Ramirez Barrios of San Francisco on 9/10/2019
  41. “My Rabbi encouraged me to sign this petition to show my solidarity with communities of color.  We can’t allow alleged anti-Semitism to be used as a rationale for slowing down progress on this important issue of racial justice.” – Naomi Levy of Oakland, CA on 9/6/2019
  42. “Teaching Ethnic Studies to my high school students in deep East Oakland has been a transformative experience for them as well as for me. Our students deserve to know their history and to see themselves as their own agents for change.” – Marisa Villegas of Hayward, CA on 9/4/2019
  43. “As a former student of Chican@ & Ethnic Studies, a high school and college professor of Chican@/Latinx Studies and as a parent, I understand the importance of seeing yourself in the curriculum, of critical thinking around race, society & history. Ethnic Studies is a critical dialectic, a “mirror” this nation and its future citizens need to look into in order to build stronger communities and lead citizens towards a safer future, a more conscientious society. California should be a national/global LEADER in education. Take the right step, CDE.” – Elias Serna of Santa Monica, CA on 9/5/2019
  44. “Ethnic Studies critically developed my identity and gave me direction during my most vulnerable time in high school. Today, I have my Master of Social Work and still am forever thankful for how Ethnic Studies changed my life. Because of Filipino Heritage Studies, I am empowered to use the arts to educate, organize, and bring about pro-people change in our communities. SUPPORT ETHNIC STUDIES.” – Eddy Gana of Los Angeles, CA on 9/14/2019
  45. “My children were exposed to amazing ethnic studies curriculum in high school and it made them way better citizens!!  I did not have this benefit in my public school education in California from 1962-1975, and I have been playing catch up ever since.” – Kalima Rose of Berkeley, CA on 9/10/2019
  46. “History and current politics are not a white story, it’s a group story and everybody deserves a seat at the table. Not just those with the privilege of white hued flesh…” – christine heath of berkeley, CA on 9/4/2019
  47. “Ethnic Studies (informal and formal) gave me direction and a genuine understanding of myself and belonging. It gave me a critical lens as a foundation for committing to our communities, particularly our youth, in order to continue to build up our communities. Our youth, across all communities, deserve and need that opportunity to connect with and invest back into our country.” – John Nguyen-Yap of Oakland, CA on 9/19/2019
  48. “Ethnic studies is transformative, empowering, and a catalyst of hope.” – RJ Bisquera of Santa Barbara, CA on 9/4/2019
  49. “I fought with thousands of SFSU students in 1968-69 to establish the country’s first school of ethnic studies in higher education. My youngest daughter was able to study Ethnic Studies at Berkeley High School, and my grandchildren are able to learn la raza ethnic studies in their dual immersion LA elementary school.  CA NEEDS AN APPROVED ETHNIC STUDIES CURRICULUM SO EVERY CALIFORNIAN HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACQUIRE ESSENTIAL ETHNIC STUDIES SKILLS AND LEARNING.” – Wendy Alfsen of Berkeley, CA on 9/19/2019
  50. “I went on strike for five months in 1968-9 in part because I wanted to see curriculum that directly addressed the ongoing consequences of structural and institutional racism for people of color in this country. Thousands of San Francisco State students joined this strike, often at considerable personal cost. We were striking not simply to promote “diversity” but to address a specific social injustice that is still very much with us.  The resurgence of nationalism in this country today makes this issue all the more urgent. I urge you to respect and support the substantive content and intent of the Ethnic Studies curriculum, lest our struggle of 50 years ago prove to have been waged in vain.” – Peter Shapiro of Oakland, CA on 9/4/2019