Paul R. Lehman, Arizona’s banning of Ethnic Studies shows bias

May 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Bigotry in America, Ethnicity in America | 3 Comments

Arizona made news lately when the state banned the teaching of Ethnic Studies in the public schools. To some citizens the action made little or no impression, but to some others, the act was totally not in keeping with common sense and justice. Arizona’s efforts in banning ethnic studies in the public schools show bias, ignorance, arrogance, and stupidity. We need to examine each of these areas in order to substantiate this claim.

                If the Southern Baptist Convention issued a press release stating that the only official Bible from now until further notice is the King James Version, members of that church would be naturally concerned. They would want to know why all the other bible versions were no longer accepted. Some would say that unless there is some rational justification for the change, then the action would be considered objectionable and bias. In essence, the church would be showing bias towards one version of the Bible.

                Now consider Arizona’s action in banning Ethnic Studies from the public schools. This act shows bias against all non-European Americans and their participation, contributions, and influences in creating American society as we know it today. In point of fact, since all Americans are ethnic Americans then no history, government, social studies, literature or any subjects involving Americans can be taught. What Arizona probably wanted to ban was any subject that included ethnic Americans other than European Americans. Unfortunately, that would be impossible if the students were to receive a realistic and factual appreciation of America’s history. America has always been a multicultural society although for many years it behaved as if it was a monoculture of European Americans. For Arizona to try and recapture that behavior is plain and simply biased.

                The leaders in Arizona who contributed to this banning of Ethnic Studies are lacking important information concerning the purpose and function of education. In essence, they are ignorant if they believe that a well-rounded education can be acquired by eliminating certain ethnic Americans from the American story. Sure enough, they have the power to include or omit from their text books anyone they care to, as in the case of Texas. But the effect is that students grow up educationally handicapped. Information they should be in possessing of they would be lacking; that lacking would render them as ignorant as the leaders who issued the ban on Ethnic Studies. The primary purpose of education is to try and eliminate ignorance by providing the students with the most factual, accurate, and current information available. Why then would a state choose ignorance over information?

                An old saying states that while ignorance can be fixed, stupidity is forever. Americans have for over three hundred years tried to create a society that reflects justice and fairness for all its citizens. At each juncture in working towards that objective some level of progress can be realized. The progress can be seen in the liberties and privileges obtained by women and ethnic Americans in the areas of voting, education, housing, entertainment and government to name a few. Without the contributions of Americans from the many ethnic groups that make-up this society, America could not exist. Why should those American ethnic cultures and their contributions not be recognized for their efforts?  The Ethnic Studies classes provide the students with information about the respective cultures, their influence and contribution to American. This information is a source of pride for the students who embrace their culture and provide a source of social value to those students who learn about the cultures from other than stereotypes which are often negative presentations. To deny students the opportunity to acquire information about themselves and other Americans where respect and value can be acquired is showing a great lack of intelligence, or is just plain stupid.

The fact that the State of Arizona assumed the right to dictate what ethnic group history and culture will be taught in their public school is a show of biased arrogance. The biased idea of European American history as the only legitimate history is no longer acceptable. The fact that ethnic Americans want their stories to be taught along with traditional American History should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, when the mindset of some European Americans lead them to believe that America is their country and they have a right to say what is taught or not taught in their schools, then the arrogance becomes intolerable. America is and has always been a multiethnic, multicultural, diverse society. Unfortunately, the powers that be, at one time, controlled the information output and in so doing created prejudices among many of the ethnic groups. Today, we can look around us and appreciate the diversity that makes us a stronger nation because we all have a part in its well being.

                 Again, all Americans are members of an ethnic group whether they realize it or not. Without the contributions of ethnic groups and cultures in America today even the simple pleasure of going out to dinner would be very restricted. We as a nation should be about the business of educating ourselves and our children about the shared value of citizenship we enjoy. Regardless of what the biased history of the pre-Civil Rights days attempted to force upon Americans about themselves and their fellow Americans, we now have the responsibility to right a wrong– to tell the American story that includes the participation, contributions, and influences of all its citizens regardless of ethnicity. For any state to try and deny their citizens that right is really un-American.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Good piece! Many un-American things are going on out there.

  2. Arizona and Texas are attempting to push the clock back by editing history yet again. History is ultimately the record of events that shape the present and future. The participants in these events are a matter of fact. History is not a Hollywood script but for years it was certainly crafted as though it was. And the heros were always European Americans. The losers and bad guys…just look at any pre 60’s movie. It is so unfortunate that so many Americans cannot see that it is this experiment at ethnic neutrality that has made this Country the envy of the Globe, not Capitalism. The idea that anyone can come here and make it is a technicolor dream! We are indeed a melting pot. Now is not the time to chill, its time to turn up the heat.

  3. Every child regardless of where he lives on the planet, is entitled to the best education that we can provide. The ‘best’ that I refer to includes all of the factual data…the good, the bad, and the ugly of human destruction, achievement, and challenge. We are a mosiac of humankind. Every single hue (new shades are being formed as we speak) reflects a macrocosm of its own orgin or history of being. The mosiac of humankind is connected by the parallel needs of all to reproduce, survive and flourish expressed through communication. Communicating/teaching each other provides us connections to each other, and our world. To deny a single shade of the human mosiac is both ignominious and hubristic.


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