Robyn Rodriguez's Commentary on California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Bill Featured in The Sacramento Bee

Migration research culster

As debates over which communities should be represented in California’s first ethnic studies curriculum intensify, a bill that would require that the curriculum be taught in high schools is being delayed.  “It is not a question of whether the subject [of ethnic studies] itself is necessary but rather, how do we ensure the curriculum is comprehensive, rigorous, and inclusive enough,” Medina said in a statement. “This underscores the importance of taking the time necessary to ensure we get the curriculum right.”

Professors who have long taught ethnic studies are concerned about the state’s curriculum drifting from ethnic studies as an academic field.  Robyn Rodriguez, chair of the Asian American studies department at UC Davis, said it appears that many groups criticizing the draft curriculum, such as Jewish, Hellenic, and Armenian groups, misunderstand the academic field by “thinking of ethnic studies as being about ethnicity.” “Ethnic studies as a name is kind of a misnomer. What we’re really contending with is race,” she continued. Ethnic studies at its core is about “the various kinds of inequality and exploitation for non-white people of color.”

She said that while she understands the groups’ concerns about the draft not being inclusive, she thinks they are overlooking the aim of ethnic studies to focus specifically on groups that have been racially oppressed.

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