Saturday, May 15, 2010
Arizona’s quite a state. Home to that sheriff that likes putting prisoners in hot pink underwear and chain gangs, a recently single friend of mine who has no idea how to be single, and apparently intolerance. That immigration law they recently passed has been plastered all about as encouraging racial profiling, allowing police to ask anyone who looks illegal to show proof of citizenship. At least that’s what the Facebook group told me. And now the sunbelt’s pride and joy has taken things a step further, with the governor recently singing into law a bill putting strange limitations on ethnic studies classes in schools.
Last year I took a Black Media class here at OU, which focused on portrayals and involvement of black people in American media from the Reconstruction period to present. (Not) surprisingly there were a lot of white people in the class. And if you showed up, paid attention, and did decently well on the exams I imagine it would be difficult to leave the class after ten weeks thinking that racism is over and everything is hunky-dory in America (the professor actually posed the question, ‘Does Obama’s presidency mean the end of racism?’ Everyone laughed). The Arizona law forbids grade schools to teach classes geared “primarily [towards] pupils of a particular ethnic group” and also bans classes that may advocate overthrowing the U.S. government or harbor “resentment towards a race or class of people.” Oh my my.
It’s not that such “ethnic studies” classes seek to make you hate whitey and want to burn Washington, and in fact I’d bet most people don’t come out of the class like that. However, for the emotionally immature, it’s not like you can’t see why they feel that way. Contrary to what every state between Maryland and California will tell you, American history is drenched with abuse, hatred, relocation, and slaughter of minorities. It’s almost as if America’s trying to catch up to the centuries of oppression her big brothers and sisters in Europe have under their belts. Hatred breeds hatred, it’s that simple.
Unfortunately these “ethnic studies” classes are a necessary part of education in this country. There might be a Black History Month and a Hispanic History Month and what have you, but they all fall under the umbrella of White History Year. In order to gain a functioning understanding of your environment and your history you need to examine multiple viewpoints, even if they may teach you that your race has been a right proper band of cunts over the years (and I’m not just talking about whites). That’s not to say a class on Black Media is a flawless vision into the American black experience, but it’s better than your only knowledge of it coming from a day of lecture on the Civil Rights movement in your “American History, 1865-Present” class.