Mic Check: Ethnic Studies 101

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CALL: “Mic Check!” RESPOND: “1, 2, 1, 2!!”.

“Mic Check!” “1, 2, 1, 2!”. Silence. One mic. Attention! One speaker. Silence. One voice. Silence. Please listen. “Mic Check!” “1, 2, 1, 2!” MIC CHECK! Hear me out. MIC CHECK! Please, hear me out.

On Saturday, June 27, 2015 KAMP hosted “Mic Check: Ethnic Studies 101” at the Filipino Food and Bakery in Barrio Logan. The purpose of that night was to provide a safe place for community members to freely express themselves and share their stories of life with their own words. That night was the basics of ethnic studies.

It’s about being able to talk without the thought of holding back your tongue. Hoping that there are others who share your story. Hoping, that you are not alone. Hoping that there are others who identify with you. There are others who share your history and culture.

To me, Ethnic Studies 101 is self. Ethnic Studies 101 is love. Ethnic Studies 101 is empathy. Ethnic Studies 101 is embracing identity. Ethnic Studies 101 is music. Ethnic Studies 101 is writing. Ethnic Studies 101 is performance. Ethnic Studies 101 is Open Mic.

Ethnic Studies is not fearing but empowering.

Ethnic Studies is acknowledging the participants who are also present with you.

Ethnic Studies is self-determination. Ethnic Studies is transformative.

Ultimately, Ethnic Studies is Care. Care to understand the simple stories of everyday people. Care to sit and listen to the stories of selves. Care to express your thoughts and your perspective. Care to say, “I am me”. Care to say, “I”. Care to say, “I am”. Care to say “me”, “my self”, “my voice”, “my own”, “my life”, “This is who I am” and “I am” telling “you”. “This is how I see the world, this is my own view. This is my story”.

Care to see the self in other. Care to stand next to each other accepting our differences, accepting the life style I chose to live. Because being here, present, validates that I am somebody.

That is Ethnic Studies, to me.

By: Ate Kimberly Paule

KAMP Mobilizes with Ethnic Studies NOW! Campaign

By Amanda Solomon Amorao, PhD

On June 9, 2015, the San Diego Unified School District overwhelmingly passed a resolution to establish and implement Ethnic Studies curriculum in all K-12 classrooms of the district. The resolution, authored by Board Trustee Richard Barrera and Board President Marne Foster and supported by a broad-based coalition of community organizations, represents a dedication to culturally relevant curriculum grounded in social justice and critical thinking. The Kuya Ate Mentorship Program (KAMP) is proud to have mobilized with the Association of Raza Educators, Unión del Barrio, and diverse but dedicated individuals and groups to advocate for the passage of this necessary resolution.

The move to institute Ethnic Studies in California K-12 public education has been steadily gaining ground since February 2014 when Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1750 in the legislature. AB 1750 called for the formation of a task force to create and implement a comprehensive Ethnic Studies curriculum to serve the state’s increasingly diverse population. As the debate over culturally relevant curriculum proceeded in the state capital, several individual school boards took the initiative to pass their own resolutions. In June 2014, El Rancho Unified School District became the first to declare its commitment to Ethnic Studies followed by Los Angeles in November, San Francisco in December and Montebello in February 2015. By June 3, 2015, AB 1750 had been reconstituted into AB 101, which called for an Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee to be formed that would make recommendations to the Board of Education regarding Ethnic Studies as well as mandate the State Superintendent to make plans to offer Ethnic Studies curriculum in schools.

The resolution passed by San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) on June 9 explicitly states that regardless of the fate of AB 101, San Diego would become the fifth district to dedicate itself to establishing an Ethnic Studies curriculum for all of its students. Over 75% of SDUSD’s population identify as students of color. More than 45 languages are spoken in the district, with the diversity of the region expected to increase; yet, according to the Ethnic Studies NOW! petition in support of the resolution, there has only ever been one identifiable Ethnic Studies course offered to a district of over 100,000 students. Members of the Ethnic Studies NOW! Coalition spoke eloquently and passionately before the board’s vote about the significance of the resolution. Student speakers talked about the power of hearing the stories of their communities treated with equity and dignity in the classroom. Educators and community members discussed how Ethnic Studies would benefit all students regardless of racial background, as it would cultivate critical thinking skills and a sense of tolerance and justice.

Sarah Mirelles, graduate of San Franisco State University’s Master’s Program in Ethnic Studies, addressed the school board on behalf of KAMP as one of the Ethnic Studies NOW! speakers. She shared how significant such a curriculum had been in her life. “Ethnic studies is what taught me how to fight for what I feel passionately about. All the speakers that came all spoke from the heart and for the love of their communites,” Mirelles stated after the resolution passed. She has been a member of KAMP for the past year and has expressed her plans to continue working with the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee to establish and implement courses in SDUSD classrooms.

KAMP’s mission since its founding has been to provide a space for all students, especially Filipino American students, to dialogue about issues of ethnic culture, identity, and history. As such, it will tirelessly continue to work with the SDUSD Board and the Ethnic Studies NOW! Coalition to ensure that the resolution will be implemented in a fundamental and transformative way. Ultimately, Ethnic Studies curriculum is not simply about introducing students to cultural differences between groups. The Ethnic Studies movement began forty-five years ago on the public campuses of California’s higher education system as a concrete and mobilized action against racism, imperialism, and the dehumanization of marginalized communities. KAMP believes that to institute an Ethnic Studies curriculum in SDUSD is to decolonize the education system. It is to engage in the concerted effort to tell the stories that are silenced, stories that are dismissed in order to maintain power for certain groups at the cost of the possibilities of life for others. Such an education is a right for all and simultaneously such an education is necessary to guarantee justice for all.

For more information on the Ethnic Studies NOW! Coalition, visit www.ethnicstudiesnow.com/sdusd.

For more information on the Kuya Ate Mentorship Program (KAMP), see www.kampsd.org.

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Mic Check: Ethnic Studies 101 – June 27, 6pm @ Filipino Food & Bakery

School may be out, but education & learning never take a break! Kick off your summer with an open mic honoring the Ethnic Studies movement…past, present, and future.

If you would like to know more about the movement for Ethnic Studies in San Diego and sign the petition, please visit:

http://www.ethnicstudiesnow.com/sdusd

Have questions or need more information? Feel free to contact us at kampsd@gmail.com.

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