California high school students may be required to take a one-semester ethnic studies course as part of their high school graduation requirements. This comes on the heels of the Black Lives Matter upheaval that has caused our nation to rethink systemic racism. By offering a class that explores the cultural and historical history of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, all students will learn about the people who make up the America population and not just the Eurocentric history that is laid out in their history books.
I remember wondering why the internment of the 120,000 Japanese Americans (US citizens!) during WWII was never mentioned in my US History class. Or why textbooks described how the Atlantic Slave Trade brought millions of “workers” from Africa, and didn’t address the inhumanity of enslaving Africans and selling them like livestock when they arrived between 1500-1800.
Critics of the high school curriculum say that the course leaves out Armenians and Muslims. I’m sure other groups will come forward with other complaints of omissions but this is a good step in the right direction. Maybe this course could include “Lies my Teacher Told Me; Everything Your American History Textbook got Wrong” by James Loewen. Let’s include ethnic studies in all US high school curriculum – I believe it will help us appreciate our differences. Another avenue to consider is interracial marriages – that forces the conversation and creates a “melting pot” of beautiful children.