You are on page 1of 3

Your Last Name Your Name Your Professors Name Asian American History XX September 2012 How is Ethnic

Studies Still Relevant or Irrelevant Today? American society had to deal with the issues of white supremacy, racial segregation, and ethnic marginalization for many centuries. Numerous federal laws have been passed to solve the problem of racial prejudice and discrimination of any type, and it is necessary to admit that the United States managed to achieve tremendous success in the above mentioned sphere. However, despite these fundamental changes, the issues of race and ethnicity should not be ignored, since intolerance for difference and stereotypes about ethnic minorities persist. In a multicultural society like America, Ethnic Studies should be an integral part of a school curriculum, since this academic discipline brings a number of social and academic benefits to students. The United States is frequently described as a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, because the country has attracted millions of people from all over the world. In order to avoid biases and simplified views of lives of ethnic minorities and be able to communicate successfully with people of other nationalities, it is essential to have some knowledge of Ethnic Studies. It is important to teach an Ethnic Studies program, since it promotes cultural awareness, positive thinking about and acceptance of ethnic diversity. The discipline is aimed to enhance understanding between individuals of different ethnic origins.

Opponents of Ethnic Studies are of the opinion that this discipline should be excluded from curricula, since it teaches ethnic resentment and hostility. The debate over importance of Ethnic Studies became more intense after Governor of Arizona signed a bill prohibiting ethnic courses (Lewin). Those who criticize the academic discipline seem to misinterpret its

Your Last Name objectives and fail to see its social benefits. Particularly, they ignore the fact that Ethnic Studies enhances a dialogue between people of different ethnic backgrounds, promotes respect for cultural diversity, and prepares well-educated members of society.

One of the benefits of Ethnic Studies is that it provides an insight into the foundations of American society and helps students to understand historical background of the ethnic issue. It teaches from various viewpoints, shows history from the perspective of marginalized groups and encourages students to analyze critically cultural heritage of ethnic minorities and the contribution made by the latter to the development of the United States. It demonstrates the experience of minority groups in the US through history and provides critical tools, which enable students to understand historical circumstances of discrimination. The classes make students more informed about traditions, culture, immigration history of various ethnicities, and the role they played in shaping the American community. This knowledge helps to erase stereotypes, which are frequently suggested by media, and makes it easier for students to define their own cultural identity. While learning about racism and ethnicity in American society throughout history, students learn more about the present structure of the US community. Furthermore, Ethnic Studies has a significant academic potential. Ethnic classes are reported to have a positive impact on academic engagement and achievement of students (Sleeter 9). It can be explained by the fact that Ethnic Studies addresses themes, which are relevant for a given minority group and it makes students more motivated to study. To sum up, Ethnic Studies is concerned with contemporary ethnic issues and strives to build cultural bridges between minority groups in the United States. Students benefit from learning about cultural diversity and different segments of the American community in a way that they become more open-minded, tolerant, and respectful towards other ethnicities. The course broadens students outlook and helps them to define the elements of contemporary American society and culture.

Your Last Name Works Cited Lewin, Tamar. Citing Individualism, Arizona tries to rein in Ethnic Studies in School. The New York Times 13 May 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2012 <>. Sleeter, Christine E. The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review. The National Education Association. 2011. Web. 11 Sept. 2012