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Chapter Summaries

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    • Kay Fischer
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    How We've Organized the Chapters

    In this resource, we’ve organized learning objectives typically addressed in an “Intro to Ethnic Studies” class or courses similar to this, and considered the CSU Ethnic Studies core competencies within the following ten chapters:

    Chapter 2: “The Ongoing Struggle for Ethnic Studies”

    In Chapter 2: “The Ongoing Struggle for Ethnic Studies,” Espinoza-Kulick examines how Ethnic Studies was birthed out of struggle, which helps to define this unique discipline. Students will uncover the basic frameworks used in Ethnic Studies such as Indigeneity and Transformative Resistance. Starting with examples of counter-hegemonic knowledge production outside academia, Espinoza-Kulick writes about the ways our communities have sustained our heritage in the face of genocide, settler-colonialism, slavery, and other systems of oppression that attempted to strip communities of their languages, cultures, spiritual practices, and ancestral connections. This chapter also explores the ways people of color have resisted educational oppression including leading the longest student strike in the United States, which was for a Third World College at San Francisco State in 1968. Espinoza-Kulick emphasizes how this discipline moved students beyond examination of oppression into resistance and social change work. Readers will also understand how the discipline has grown and evolved over the past five decades, while countering threats against Ethnic Studies.

    Chapter 3: “Africana/African American/Black Studies”

    In Chapter 3: “Africana/African American/Black Studies,” Espinoza-Kulick and Hodges review various political, historical, cultural, and theoretical perspectives and struggles related to Black communities in the U.S. through a Black Studies framing. Starting with examining ideologies and movements related to civil rights and liberation, Chapter 3 also digs into some pre-colonial African history, the impacts of slavery, resistance and abolition, the Reconstruction Era, and Jim Crow policies. It moves on to various examples of how structural and systemic racism continue to impact Black Americans today, such as mass incarceration and educational inequity. Finally, this chapter considers cultural and media representations of Black women in racialized and gendered ways and makes connections to liberation movements of today including Black Lives Matter and Black Feminism.

    Chapter 4: “American Indian/Native American Studies”

    Cheshire and Leal present Chapter 4: “American Indian/Native American Studies,” in which they discuss how American Indian Studies and Native American Studies were advocated by Indigenous leaders, along with various movements of Native rights during the 1960s. The authors also identify exactly how American Indian Studies and Native American Studies are distinct from other academic disciplines that “study” Native Americans. Starting with “Indigenous Ways of Knowing,” Cheshire and Leal review various Native creation stories that have been passed down and inform how to live and how Native peoples are rooted in this land. This chapter describes specific ways that California Native women have resisted colonization and missionization and how their experiences and identities are “place-based.” Further, Chapter 4 introduces students to key concepts and theories in this discipline such as sovereignty and settler colonialism, while also explaining the impact of colonialism on Native American communities, such as mass removal from their lands and forced assimilation policies. Lastly, the authors review various contemporary directions for resistance and self-determination led by Native Americans, such as the LandBack movement and sustaining the land through traditional ecological knowledge.

    Chapter 5: “Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies”

    Fischer and Hodges introduce readers to Chapter 5: “Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies.” This chapter dives into various themes related to the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Starting with data displaying the broad representation of the political-racial category of “Asian American,” the authors review the impact of Orientalism and other racialized perspectives of Asian Americans. They discuss connections to the legacy of western imperialism and wars, as well as instances when Asian Americans came together under a pan-ethnic banner and worked in solidarity with other minoritized groups. Readers will grasp the impact of anti-Asian immigration policies, the exploitation of Asian immigrant labor, and the politics of Asian American ethnic enclaves on the development of the Asian American community. Finally, the authors center Pacific Islander voices while addressing the importance of distinguishing Pacific Islander history, culture, and experiences from Asian Americans, such as Pacific Islander experiences in education, with militarization, and climate change.

    Chapter 6: “Chicanx and Latinx Studies”

    In Chapter 6: “Chicanx and Latinx Studies” Espinoza-Kulick and Acevedo break down various terminology used in this ever-expanding discipline, while introducing readers to the development of Chicanx and Latinx Studies in higher education. They continue by analyzing autonomous education for Latinx children, examples of student-led resistance such as the East LA Blowouts of 1968, and student-centered organizing and organizations that formed in this era, such as M.E.Ch.A. The authors review the impact of Chicana feminism and the roles that racialization and identity play in diverse Chicanx/Latinx communities, such as Indigenismo, Mestizaje, and Afro-Latinidad. Chapter 6 also examines the impact of migration and immigration policies, emphasizing both exclusionary laws and practices and how communities advocate for immigrant justice. Lastly, the authors highlight current topics in this discipline including health equity and struggles over political representation.

    Chapter 7: “White Supremacy, Racisms, and Racial Formation”

    For Chapter 7, “White Supremacy, Racisms, and Racial Formation,” Hodges begins by explaining how the concept of dehumanization is centered in white supremacy and whiteness. Upon “contact” with Native Americans and people from Africa, European colonizers began constructing false ideas about socially constructed categories of “race” that “othered” non-Europeans, helping to justify colonization, genocide, slavery, wars, and land dispossession. Hodges further connects these ideologies to the theory of racial formation and explains how racism functions structurally and institutionally in connection to the possessive investment in whiteness, hegemony, and oppression. Readers are also introduced to the lasting impacts of these ideologies such as how whiteness is normalized in institutions and fields like education, technology and health. Lastly, readers explore how whiteness is normalized even among children, and how normalization of whiteness and extensions of whiteness onto nationality continues to harm and divide people living in the U.S.

    Chapter 8: “Intersectionality: Centering Women of Color”

    In Chapter 8, “Intersectionality: Centering Women of Color,” Fischer unfolds the importance of intersectionality as one of the core frameworks in Ethnic Studies, while centering writings, theories, and experiences of women of color. Starting by breaking down the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality, and class, readers will be exposed to theories presented by Black feminists and other women of color as they (re)define feminism for themselves. Chapter 8 also applies this framework to the reproductive justice movement, starting with historical examples of people resisting attempted controls of their bodies, including forced sterilization, eugenics, and how leaders have advocated for full access to reproductive care, including abortion. Finally, the framework of intersectionality is also applied to love, radical self-love, and self-care as forms of resistance, particularly for women of color and Queer, Trans, and Non Binary people of color.

    Chapter 9: “The Racial Wealth Gap”

    Acevedo introduces the concept of wealth inequality and how it intersects with race in Chapter 9: “The Racial Wealth Gap.” He explains how in a capitalist nation like the U.S., wealth is connected to access to or lack of access to basic necessities such as housing, medicine, food, and education. He complicates our understanding of wealth inequality by introducing the concept of decolonization and the importance of centering testimonios when focusing on the impact of wealth inequality for Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The chapter begins with how there are disparities along race when it comes to access to wealth and barriers against communities of color when it comes to housing and jobs. Even perceptions of who has access to wealth are influenced by one’s race, with most people in the U.S. falsely believing that Black Americans have similar access to wealth as whites. Further, the chapter analyzes the ways in which the racial wealth gap originated in colonization and slavery and makes comparisons to the board game Monopoly, albeit rigged against people of color. Connections are made to how financial systems today help to reinforce these inequities such as practices that allow employers to not hire system-impacted people or policies that enforced racial segregation in housing. The chapter concludes by providing examples of counter narratives such as the movement for reparations.

    Chapter 10: “The State of Human Caging: Incarceration, Policing, and State-Sanctioned Violence”

    Chapter 10: “The State of Human Caging: Incarceration, Policing, and State-Sanctioned Violence,” authored by Acevedo and Fischer, begins by defining the prison industrial complex. The authors make a connection to the role of privatization of prisons, and how BIPOC are disproportionately represented in imprisonment rates. They also break down how prison labor is exploited as a loophole in the 13th amendment which was supposed to abolish slavery, but allowed slave-labor “as punishment for crime.” Prison abolitionist Angela Davis even calls the prison labor or chain gang system a reincarnation of slavery. This is connected to the use of criminalizing and caging immigrants, a practice named crimmigration. In the following section, the authors explain the War on Drugs and how it was used as a “colorblind” vehicle to drive millions of mostly poor people of color into prisons, and legalize discrimination in housing and employment. Part of the success of the carceral system involves the internalization of the myth that Black people are criminal and that “bad” people are behind bars and deserve to be there. The authors move on to examine the history of policing, dispelling the myth that police are here to “protect” average citizens. Upon further examination, it’s revealed that policing has a history of suppressing certain populations with roots in capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, settler-colonialism, and slavery, with specific analysis of how gender, race, and class intersect with policing and police violence. In relation, the chapter considers the impact of racial profiling by police, including the post-9/11 detention, deportation, and surveillance of South Asian, Arab and Muslim communities. Next, the authors review the school-to-prison pipeline and the militarization of our schools, and finally, uncover various alternatives to policing and imprisonment, such as the prison abolition movement and restorative justice programs in schools.

    Chapter 11: “Social Movements: Resistance and Solidarity”

    Finally, the authors of this OER close with Chapter 11: “Social Movements: Resistance and Solidarity,” written by Espinoza-Kulick and Fischer. As a field that came out of student protest, Ethnic Studies emphasizes the importance of struggle and resistance in order to build a just society. This chapter begins with exposure to various frameworks for action that will help readers gain an understanding of the theories applied to dismantle oppressive systems like white supremacy and capitalism. Frameworks include Indigenous Sovereignty, art as resistance, Queer/Trans critiques, Disability Justice, and more. The authors then examine various applications of activist frameworks on influential resistance movements starting with some based in the U.S., such as the Civil Rights Movement, Asian American Movement, and other liberatory movements centered on race and culture from the 1960s and 70s. Labor movements are given significant attention in Chapter 11 with a focus on domestic workers and agricultural laborers, particularly the Delano Grape Strike and the Filipinx and Chicanx collaboration. The next section focuses on transnational organizing work with a lens on the justice for “comfort women” campaign. And finally, Chapter 11 ends by examining more recent struggles around environmental justice, racial justice, and gender justice.

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