Monday, July 27, 2020

CSU Channel Islands Chicana/o Studies Dept. Statement

The Chicana/o Studies Department of CSUCI affirms our support for AB 1460
July 24, 2020

Statement Rejecting Chancellor Timothy White’s White Washed Requirement adopted by the California State University Board of Trustees

Systemic racism is alive and well in the Chancellor’s Office of the California State University and Board of Trustees by the passage of a so-called “Ethnic Studies-Social Justice” requirement, essentially ignoring Ethnic Studies Faculty across the CSU system. His move to preemptively undermine the passage of AB 1460, continues the legacy of white supremacy in education. A close analysis of the final vote reveals that the majority in favor of Chancellor White’s watered-down, white-washed proposal were majority white trustees. Those who voted against the measure were Latinx and Black trustees.

Since 1492 to the present, European settler colonists and their progeny have not only occupied and stolen the lands, freedom, and liberty of people of the Americas, Africa, and Asia but also nearly destroyed their histories to indoctrinate the young and old with a sanitized past to suit their racist interests. In this tradition of white supremacy, Chancellor Timothy White’s paternalistic and Orwellian double-speak substitution of his diluted Ethnic Studies-Social Justice requirement, adopted on July 22, 2020 by the CSU board of trustees, is attempting to thwart AB 1460 Ethnic Studies soon to be on the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom to be made law, is another example of how people of African, Asian, Chicanx/Latinx, and Native American ancestry are being told by European settler colonist, “We know what’s best for you little brown brothers.”

Chancellor White’s alternative proposal diverts students away from genuine Ethnic Studies courses by allowing them to take pseudo, undefined social justice classes in their place to graduate. This is like telling students that “All Lives Matter” instead of Black Lives Matter.” Ethnic Studies is rooted in the critical examination of racism, white supremacy, anti-racism, racial equity, unlike Social Justice that has its origins in theology, philosophy and criminal justice (a contradictory place to examine the Black Live Matter movement) and calls for the abstract ideal of “equality.” Whereas Social Justice advocates for equality by treating everyone the same and giving everyone the same opportunities, Ethnic Studies strives for equity, which refers to just and proportional representation (by race, class, gender, and other intersectionalities, etc.) in those same opportunities. Another problem with Chancellor White’s notion of “Social Justice” is that it advances colorblindness in a society replete with institutional racism. In fact, the editors of Seeing Race Again: Counterblindness across the Disciplines argue that social justice discourse has been ineffective in pushing back against colorblindness.

We are concerned about what kinds of courses will count towards fulfilling a "social justice" requirement at CSUCI. We already have a watered down Multicultural Perspectives (MP) requirement that can be fulfilled by such courses as “The Beach” and “What is Art?” and “Musical Theatre.” Like the MP requirement, the Social Justice requirement continues the cosmetic and ineffectual approach to a deep understanding of the histories of the four historically racialized groups (African Americans, Native Americans, Chicanas/os- Latinas/os and Asian American). Additionally, by what metric will that social justice pedagogy be measured if we extract a critical examination of race from out of that equation? How will we know what is being passed as "social justice"? That requirement is incredibly vague and will lead to a non-critical, non-racial general education. For example, will classes that examine Plato and Aristotle count as "social justice" courses?

They would technically be examining these issues but would be devoid of any contemporary applications. We demand a curriculum that addresses the current rise of white supremacy along with anti-Black, anti- Latina/o, anti-Asian, and anti-Indigenous sentiment in our country; we demand a curriculum that provides our students with the tools to critique and dismantle these dynamics and ensure that we keep something close to a democracy in the future of this country.
Furthermore, Chancellor White is hiding behind the veneer of local autonomy, allowing campuses and their GE committees to determine the Ethnic Studies requirement, without having to defer to Ethnic Studies faculty experts, who are predominantly people from underrepresented communities, in this academic field. Where is the disciplinary deference? Would we ever pass the GWAR requirement without input  from English Faculty? No. Would we also allow the quantitative reasoning requirement without input from Mathematics? I don't think so.

Chancellor White’s requirement is an example of a racist policy. A “racist policy” according to Ibram Kendi is as “any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.” A racist policy uses euphemisms and vague and dishonest language (eg. social justice) around naming specific groups that leads to generic strategies, usually coming from a Whiteness perspective. AB-1460 is an anti-racist policy because it avoids vagueness and names four historically racialized groups (African Americans, Native Americans, Chicanas/os-Latinas/os and Asian Americans) and identifies the CSU policy (Generation Education) as institutional racism as the reason for inequality in the outcomes experienced by historically racialized groups.

Therefore, once again, the white supremacist power structure of the California State University, that Chancellor White leads, refuses historically underrepresented faculty the freedom to self-determine, design, and teach their own Ethnic Studies requirement to a majority people of color student body.

Chancellor Timothy White’s Whitewashed Requirement is Racist; AB-1460 is Anti-Racist.
Stop the white supremacy of Chancellor White and support self-determination and Anti-Racism by demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom sign AB 1460!

Chicana/o Studies Department at CSU Channel Islands

(916) 445-2841

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