Friday, October 1, 2010

First Day of Ethnic Studies Week: Kennedy Park

Posted By on Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Today is the beginning of Ethnic Studies Week, and in Tucson, you can celebrate at Ethnic Extravaganza, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Kennedy Park (Ajo Way and La Cholla Boulevard), with performances by the Human Project Dancers, Mariachi Aztlan, Gabriel Ayala and others. The point of the free event is to celebrate diversity in Tucson and support ethnic studies in Arizona public schools.

Events are being organized across the country to support opposition to banning ethnic studies classes in Arizona, but what's interesting about Tucson's event is that it was organized by a student who attends a local private school, not a school affiliated with TUSD.

Here's part of the press release from organizer Abriana Romero, a senior at St. Gregory School:

When Abriana Romero, 17, heard that a law might ban ethnic studies, she was relieved to learn it would not impact her school, which is a private school.

But she was concerned for other Arizona students who might lose the right to learn more about ethnicity and culture.

So Romero, president of the St. Gregory Diversity Club, and classmate Jacob Valdez organized Ethnic Extravaganza, providing education and celebration at Kennedy Park, 3700 S. Mission Road, from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.

Ethnic Extravaganza is free and open to the public. Speaking about the issues will be students as well as:

- Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, professor at the University of Arizona Department of Mexican American and Raza Studies

- Ofelia Zepeda, UA professor in American Indian Studies

- Julio Cammarota, UA professor in Anthropology and Mexican American Studies

There will be multi-cultural dance, music and food for sale. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets. Among the entertainers will be Mariachi Aztlan, Serena Jazz Saxophone, Suzuyuki-Kai Traditional Japanese Dance, guitarist Gabriel Ayala and The Human Project dance group.

Ethnic Extravaganza kicks off Ethnic Studies Week, Oct. 1-7, a national week of action, inspired by opposition to the ban on ethnic studies in Arizona public schools.

Bring chairs and blankets, and call 327-6395 if you need more information.

Read the jump for more information from national organizers of Ethnic Studies Week and go here.

Ethnic Studies began about 40 years ago, as a part of the Black, Chicana/o, Puerto Rican, American Indian, and Asian American liberation movements of the 1960s, when students and teachers sat in, fasted, petitioned and protested, demanding a curriculum that reflected their history and experience. In the last 40 years many college departments and K-12 programs have discovered that the struggle for funding, positions, recognition, classes, is continuous. The egregious assaults on Ethnic Studies education by Arizona lawmakers and the Texas Board of Education last May, that inspired this movement, are but a reflection of many other struggles, mostly fought on an individual or local level, to defend our right to teach and learn ethnic studies.

This week represents our determination to defend this right on a national level, even as we do so in diverse ways that reflect our local realities. This week we join thousands of people across the United States in asserting our right to teach and learn the diverse stories that make up the U.S. experience. We assert our right to act on what we learn to create a more equitable society. This week, in hundreds of individual classrooms, K-12 and college, students will be listening to speakers, watching films and pausing to reflect on the importance of ethnic studies. In addition, public events are occurring in dozens of venues, in San Diego, Long Beach, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, California; Salem Oregon, Laramie Wyoming, Tucson, Prescott, Phoenix, and Tempe Arizona; Albuquerque New Mexico, Lincoln Nebraska, Honokaa Hawaii, Minneapolis, St Paul, and St Cloud Minnesota, Madison Wisconsin, Chicago Illinois, Gary Indiana, Gainesville Florida, Middletown Connecticut, Bridgewater and Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts, Long Island, New York City, El Paso, and Austin Texas, and more.

This week represents the beginning of a national movement to defend our right to teach and learn ethnic studies, in K-12 and College, in Arizona and everywhere.

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