Ethnic Studies 101


What is Ethnic Studies?

Ethnic Studies is a subject that might be taught in your child’s school. It sort of sounds nice, until you realize that it seeks to tear people apart and paints a hideous picture of the United States. Taught in K12 schools from California to Boston, ethnic studies sounds like it would introduce your child to different ethnicities. In reality, it is critical race theory (CRT) by another name.

Boards of education and school districts are approving and adopting curriculum based in Liberated Ethnic Studies, also called Critical Ethnic Studies. The approved curriculum in California lists “critique empire-building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression” as one of its guiding values. 

Why is “Liberated Ethnic Studies” bad?

  • It is taught like a political religion because it imposes a narrow political ideology and world view on students. It is highly polarizing, fundamentally anti-Western and views history and civics entirely through a racial lens. 
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  • It divides students into powerful oppressors and disempowered victims, categorizing them based on their fixed traits (like the color of their skin) and group identities instead of their individual characteristics and attributes. 
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  • It pits students against one another based on ideology and skin color and sometimes gender and sexual orientation as well.  
    • As part of a model lesson from the ethnic studies consultant Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, third grade students are evaluated throughout the course of the year by monitoring how well students call out their peers when the student is doing something “normal.” Normality is defined by the consortium as any behavior that perpetuates the current system and culture.
  • It forces students to accept its predetermined “truth” (or orthodoxy) and discourages and even suppresses inquiry and dissent.

Is there any version of Ethnic Studies that is ok and not reason for concern?

Yes. It is called Constructive Ethnic Studies. Unfortunately, we don’t see this version being adopted in schools. The Guiding Principles of Constructive Ethnic Studies are to empower students to dream big, overcome challenges, and be motivated, engaged community members:

  • Build mutual respect, self-confidence, awareness, intergroup understanding and empathy
  • Elevate ethnic groups, their backgrounds, and contributions without denigrating others
  • Openly and honestly address racism and discriminatory treatment
  • Present a range of political perspectives and approaches to bringing about change, including strengths and weaknesses of each
  • Equip students with the skills to understand and analyze multiple points of view on relevant topics, so that they can develop their own opinions and present well-articulated, evidence-based argument

Liberated Ethnic Studies, or Critical Ethnic Studies, Guiding Principles state that curriculum objectives should:

  • Critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society
    • What this really means is: Students are taught to be highly critical and suspect of modern society, which is claimed to be founded on white supremacy, racism, capitalism and heterosexual male leadership.

  •  Challenge imperialist/colonial hegemonic beliefs and practices on the ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels
    • What this really means is: Students are taught that Western Civilization is founded on the oppression and enslavement of indigenous peoples; and these beliefs still “enslave” marginalized groups today through systems such as the education system, the culture writ large, and daily interactions.

  • Connect ourselves to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels to ensure a truer democracy. 
    • What this really means is: Students are taught to revere activists and activism that challenges the foundational values of American culture. Instead, students are taught that the liberation of all peoples cannot be achieved until a truer democracy is established.  (“Truer democracy” is a Marxist term referring to Communism and the abolition of private property.)

Click here to see all the Critical/ Liberated Ethnic Studies Guiding Principles.