Talk to Teachers: Ethnic Studies is Essential

Evelyn is an 11th grade Xicana student whose passions include feminism and immigrant rights. Last year, she created this website, https://prisonsystemawarenessforteens.wordpress.com when she worked on a class action suit against solitary confinement in California prisons. 

Dear Arizona Department of Education,

I am a 16  year old student from Oakland, CA. I first learned what was going on In Arizona in Middle school. Now that I am in Highschool, I understand why ethnic studies is so important especially for people of color. Speaking from personal experience as a Xicana learning about my history really changed my perspective about life. I learned how to appreciate things better. For example, how I am able to speak Spanish and learn my history in school, and share the same rights as other students of different races in school. In the 1960’s the walkouts were lead by Chicano  students who were tired of being discriminated against for being Mexican American. If they wouldn’t be able to speak Spanish or speak  English fluently or else they would get hit.

Instead of learning about the learning about their history they would learn about Lewis and Clark, Columbus, and what  amazing people they were. I remember in 4th grade I learned about Christopher Columbus, how he was an explorer and how discovered America. My teacher also mentioned what  a great person he was with the Native American, and how white people ate dinner and everything was was nice and happy. As I got older and started taking Ethnic Studies, I learned that Columbus didn’t discover America because there was already people living there which were the Native Americans, and Columbus treated the native Americans really bad.

Learning about my own history helped me be proud of who Iam and of my roots. All my life I was taught lies. For example, I was taught that Mexicans were a mixture of Indigenous blood and Spanish blood. Now that I take Raza Studies, my teacher taught me that we are a mixture of Spanish, Indigenous, and African blood. That is why we all look different. We come in all different skin tones, and hair texture. I was very surprising to know that we have African blood too. It shows you how much little we know of our own history and how certain things of our history are hidden.

Taking an Ethnics studies makes you learn about yourself and your ancestors, history made future for ourselves. We need to learn about our history, because it has caused us our future. The future is what it is due to the past.

Sincerely,

Evelyn  Rodriguez

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