Skip to main content

Statements and Commentaries

We welcome all thoughtful, informed and reasoned comments to our departmental statements. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of all faculty and graduate students at the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Regents of the University of California, or the University of California, San Diego. 

Press Release: UCSD Faculty Call for Chancellor's Resignation

Faculty of the Ethnic Studies department at UC San Diego are outraged at the vicious suppression of students by our administration under the leadership of Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. This morning, May 6, 2024, Chancellor Khosla called on the UCPD, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, and California Highway Patrol in military riot gear to raid an encampment of peaceful demonstrators exercising their free speech to demand the University's divestment from the genocide taking place in Gaza. The attack by police led to the violent arrest of 40 students, 2 professors, and 22 community members who were held for hours in the Price student center before being bused to local jails where they remain in custody. 

While the Chancellor wrongly claims that the encampment threatened safety, it was the administration's response that posed the real threat. Hostile actions by the administration and the police they ordered onto campus caused disastrous upheaval, including physical injuries and an authoritarian fracturing of peaceful student organizing and community. The deployment of police, including snipers on top of the Student Health Building, was a shocking abdication of the Chancellor's mandate to support and protect our students. In response to the administration's actions under Chancellor Khosla's leadership, we make the following demands:

1. We demand the immediate resignation of Chancellor Khosla. His actions this morning placed hundreds of students in danger at the hands of aggressive, militantly organized police and resulted in arrests and injuries; violated the constitutional rights of our students to peacefully assemble and protest; and demonstrated a level of hostility against our students that has absolutely no place among University leadership. For all these reasons Chancellor Khosla is unfit to serve UCSD any longer.

2. We demand amnesty for all. The administration must grant amnesty to all students, facuty, and staff associated with the encampment--both those currently detained and any who may be the subject of future investigation--and refrain from retaliation against them through student conduct proceedings. We also demand the reversal of recent suspensions.

3. We demand police be removed from campus immediately and permanently. UCPD, San Diego County Sheriffs, California Highway Patrol, and all other police have no place on the UC San Diego campus and should never be called upon to surveil, repress, and threaten our students. As we have seen across the country in recent weeks and in decades past, the weapons police bring onto campuses inevitably lead to escalation and grievous injury, or worse, and have no place at educational institutions. Moreover, police presence does not make students feel safer--on the contrary, the arrival of police heightens community tensions, worsens relations among community members, and is a chilling act of repression and censorship. The police presence on campus advertises to the world, including parents and prospective students, that UCSD responds to conscientious, peaceful student dissent with clubs rather than dialogue.

The Ethnic Studies department supports the demands outlined by Students for Justice in Palestine and unequivocally condemns today's attacks by the administration and the San Diego County Sherrifs Department and the California Highway Patrol. We will be closely following the administration's actions in the coming days and will continue organizing with colleagues to hold the UCSD administration accountable for the protection of our students and their civil rights. Please circulate this statement widely. 

(posted on 5/7/24)

Faculty and Students on Palestine and BDS

We are writing as extremely concerned faculty and graduate students within the Ethnic Studies
Department at the University of California, San Diego, to call attention to the 5-month-long Israeli
attempt to exterminate the Palestinian population in Gaza and their unbreakable spirit of resistance
through relentless land, sea, and air attacks, the manufacturing of lies in the media, establishing
“safe zones” only to launch renewed attacks, and garnering international material support – including
our tax dollars – to enact this genocide (read our previous statement below). It has been extremely
frightening, in particular, to see the Israeli military launch air raids on Rafah in southern Gaza and
warn of an imminent ground offensive where an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians are seeking
shelter. It is urgent to speak out against these assaults on Rafah also because it is the main entry
point for humanitarian aid via Egypt and is extremely essential for a population of almost 2.3 million
Palestinians who have been systematically pushed into starvation and famine. In this genocidal
moment, where we have lost 30,000 Palestinian lives and counting, the least we can say is

Situated within the University of California system and the heart of imperial knowledge productions in
general, as a department committed to an internationalist stance on liberation, our employment at
UCSD requires us to heed calls for UC divestment and participate in a definitive academic and
cultural boycott of the settler Israeli apartheid state, as demanded by Palestinian civil society and
modeled after the 35-year-long consumer boycott that was at the heart of the anti-apartheid
movement in South Africa. That the university profits from the exploitation of lives and extraction of
resources from communities both at home and abroad is not acceptable to us. We call immediate
attention to the fact that instead of investing in students and workers, the UC system invests directly
and indirectly in weapon contractors that harm not only Palestinians but also Indigenous
communities globally, other people of color, and the working class peoples across Turtle Island.

We call on our peers across UCSD and the UC system to heed the call for Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions and respect the picket line until Israel meets its baseline human rights obligations to the
Palestinian population under international law:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their
    homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 1948.

In unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian self-determination struggle against Israeli occupation,
UCSD Ethnic Studies Department

(posted on 4/17/24)


The Ethnic Studies community at UC San Diego supports the unequivocal right of Palestine and of the Palestinian people to self-determination, clean-water, safe schools, secure housing, economic justice, freedom from violence, and freedom from an apartheid system that seeks to dehumanize them in unconscionable ways. 

Quoting representative Rashida Tlaib (Michigan):

“I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day. I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity. The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance. The failure to recognize the violent reality of living under siege, occupation, and apartheid makes no one safer. No person, no child anywhere should have to suffer or live in fear of violence. We cannot ignore the humanity in each other. As long as our country provides billions in unconditional funding to support the apartheid government, this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue" (

We too grieve the collective trauma, suffering, and inhumanity that we are witnessing. We call for an immediate end to the war crimes and genocide taking place against the Palestinian people (50% of whom are children).

We concur with Jewish Voice for Peace who state, "We call on all people of conscience to stop the imminent genocide of Palestinians. We demand our government work towards de-escalation, that it immediately stop sending weapons to the Israeli military. A future of peace and safety for all, grounded in justice, freedom and equality for all, is still the only option" (

Jewish Voice for Peace statement

In our unwavering support for Palestinian American students, faculty, staff, and alumni who may be grieving and struggling with bearing witness to such unspeakable tragedies we join together with you in our collective grief and in our support for an end to the genocide in Gaza. We call for an end to all forms of violence against Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and Jews of all ethnicities. 

As a community we join with others who seek peace, justice, and liberation calling for a day of action on October 20th, 2023

In the call to action by #standwithpalestine for a General Strike to bring attention to the current and on-going violence happening in Gaza, they have asked for global participation. We are therefore suspending normal classroom sessions on October 20th, 2023 in lieu of other educational activities to be determined at the discretion of each instructor to promote learning and educational activities that will increase student engagement with this global conversation. More than ever, we in Ethnic Studies must not be silent in our work to transform the world to be a more just and equitable society. To this end, we have also agreed to continue to discuss our commitment to the following as a Department:

  1. A series of yearlong educational programs (workshops, guest speakers, colloquia etc) focusing on issues and resources related to Arab/Arab American, Muslim/Muslim American, Palestinian/Palestinian American Studies, and other communities aligned with the foundations of the Ethnic Studies Discipline

  2. An advisory body to identify and develop new courses in Palestinian American Studies, Arab American Studies, and Muslim American Studies as connected to Diaspora Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Settler Colonial Studies

  3. Deeper and more Structured Faculty and Graduate Student Engagement with Undergraduate  students on issues related to representation and underrepresentation

  4. Consideration for the appointment of an Undergraduate student representative to  Department Faculty Meetings to parallel Graduate student representation

  5. Encourage and develop LRF and Lecturer positions in the mission critical areas of Palestinian American Studies and Arab American Studies through the possible development of a Palestinian American Studies Minor with the support of Palestinian scholars and faculty

  6. Greater engagement with and encouragement of support mechanisms and structures for Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim graduate students, faculty, and staff who are often isolated and alienated within the larger campus climate. 

We commit to engaging these action items in meaningful ways

We invite our Ethnic Studies community members to share with us any additional recommendations and suggestions via 

In kinship and struggle

call to action by #standwithpalestine for a General Strike to bring attention to the current and on-going violence happening in Gaza
(posted on 10/19/23)

Statement in Support of CGS

As the administrative home for the Critical Gender Studies Program (CGS), the Ethnic Studies Department stands behind CGS' decision to issue a statement regarding faculty affiliations and disaffiliations within their program as a matter of faculty rights and program self-governance. We will continue work on our own departmental standards for conducting ethical research, following community identified cultural protocols, as well as work to update a separate document relating to faculty affiliation and disaffiliation criteria within our department from 2010. Let us be reminded that our ethical responsibilities are of paramount importance to our students. It is our hope that other departments in the Division of Social Sciences and on the UCSD campus will also develop criteria for faculty affiliations and disaffiliations as well as criteria for following a robust set of cultural and ethical protocols for conducting research. 

Our discipline requires that we have the highest form of ethical responsibility and as such we recognize the limits of the IRB process and call on all departments and programs to create and adopt their own criteria specific to their disciplines. By having department specific criteria we ensure that disciplinary standards for best practices are being achieved. We also believe that all faculty and students should follow and orient themselves to department and program level criteria before even applying for IRB approval. In this way we as faculty are doing our proper service to the mission of the institution with respect for department and program autonomy and institutional diversity, equity, and transformative justice. 

Statement against Caste and Caste-based Discrimination

The Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego opposes caste-based discrimination against  all students, staff, and faculty. Against the commonly circulated idea that only South Asians, specifically Hindus, should care about caste, we understand caste as a 2,500-year-old system of dehumanization that made Dalits, those outside the Brahminical caste system, into “untouchables,” as non-humans who could be killed with impunity. Caste is a structure of violence that affects over 1 billion people across the world. As a department committed to the relational study of race, ethnicity, indigeneities, gender, sexuality, class, and dis/ability, we acknowledge the importance of caste studies to the field of Ethnic Studies.

As the 2018 survey on “Caste in the United States” by Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organization, shows, 40% of Dalit students report facing discrimination in educational institutions in the diaspora.[1] In contrast, only up to 3% of respondents who were “upper” caste reported the same. With the number of students from India in the United States exceeding 200,000 in 2018 (constituting 18% of all international students) and is expected to continue growing​[2], it is urgent that we  recognize that caste is a system of violence that is as oppressive as racism, colonialism, and other oppressions. 

We see our department’s recognition of caste and caste-based violence as strengthening the anti-caste movement at UC San Diego and in the United States. There are no legal protections for caste-oppressed communities in most countries (United States included) because caste is not recognized as a category distinct from religion, ancestry, race etc. Lack of legal protections allows for caste-based discrimination within South Asian diaspora, as the recent Silicon Valley company Cisco case shows us.[3] It also allows for non-South Asians to often unknowingly but structurally participate in caste-based violence by working with casteist upper-caste South Asian scholars, students, and administrators. 

We understand that caste-supremacy is sidelined as caste-privileged people continue to circulate simply as “people of color”. Attending to the complexities of race, caste, and religion, we intend to reach out to Dalit and Muslim faculty and students to encourage them to apply to join UC San Diego. We will also work with Dalit faculty member(s) and allies across the campus to have caste included in the anti-discrimination policy of UC San Diego as part of the much-needed anti-caste organizing on campuses in North America.

(posted on December 13, 2021)

Statement in Support of Abolition May and the May 3rd Day of Refusal

The Critical Gender Studies Program at UC San Diego stands in solidarity with the Cops off Campus Coalition and with all organizing behind Abolition May and the May 3rd Day of Refusal. (More information on the campaign, with a link to the pledge for a work stoppage on May 3rd, can be found here)

In solidarity with those mobilizing for abolition on all educational campuses, we support faculty, staff, and student decisions to join the nationwide call for a one-day work stoppage on May 3rd to end campus policing. We recognize that many of our Black, Brown, and Indigenous students have not only faced a global health pandemic, ongoing ecological crises, and more in the past year, but also the continued threat of racialized police violence. We must acknowledge that policing disproportionately violates Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, trans, and poor peoples and immigrants and ultimately renders all members of campus and its surrounding communities unsafe. We are
committed to a campus that advances racial justice by ending such forms of harm, and I support students working towards this vision.

The Department of Ethnic Studies will not retaliate against undergraduate or graduate students who join the abolition events happening nationwide on May 3 or beyond for exercising their first amendment rights. Further, we oppose any threat of retaliation that may come from the administration, and stand beside our students in the struggle for racial justice and a more livable university environment for all.

We are disappointed that the university has not yet taken substantive action to provide alternatives to policing in the face of incontrovertible evidence regarding the racialized
harm it perpetuates. We call on the UCSD administration to substantively respond to the calls for divestment from police and policing on our campus.

Statement on Affordable Graduate Student and Family Housing at UCSD

The Ethnic Studies Department is horrified by the recent announcement of punishing rate hikes for graduate and family housing and demand the immediate suspension of the new policy. No doubt in response to widespread opposition on campus the administration has announced it will postpone by about a year the most dramatic increases, but that merely displaces the problem onto future graduate students.  We join many groups on campus that have expressed their outrage over the increases but as Ethnic Studies scholars we have a particular perspective on the problem of affordable campus housing. Historically, our field emerged from struggles over ideas and resources in institutions of higher education, and as a result Ethnic Studies scholars are uniquely positioned to comment on the crises at hand. 

Since 2015, graduate students have experienced 3% yearly increases in housing costs. A recent survey conducted by the UCSD Graduate and Professional Student Association found that although 40% of PhD students live in supposedly “affordable” on-campus housing, over 75% of residents are considered “rent burdened,”paying more than 33% of monthly income in housing costs as defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. As has been reported by the Student Housing Association, between 2016 and 2020, the average on-campus housing rent has gone up 37% while grad students’ stipends have only increased 9%.

The new rate hikes take an already bad situation and make it dramatically worse, increasing graduate housing costs for new students by more than 70% in some cases. The Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted BIPOC groups. The proposed rate hikes will also disproportionately affect BIPOC students, threatening a precarity spiral for people already endangered and impoverished by the pandemic. 

We recoil from the administration’s cynical use of bureaucratic rhetoric to mask the causes and consequences of the rate hikes. On March 12, 2021 EVC Simmons announced them in an email to faculty, euphemistically referring to "a new pricing strategy...created to improve the affordability, predictability, access, choice, and sustainability of graduate and family housing."  Given the administration’s inconsistent claim that its hands are tied because Housing, Dining, and Hospitality (HDH) is an autonomous unit, it’s notable that HDH has justified the rate increases using the same language of “affordability, predictability, access, choice, and sustainability.” 

Scholarship in Ethnic Studies draws critical attention to how a rhetoric of diversity, equity and inclusion is often a means of reproducing and legitimating larger exclusions and inequities. The administration’s justification for the increase in housing rates exemplifies such dynamics, describing a policy that particularly punishes BIPOC students in terms of “access, choice, and sustainability.” The use of the final term is particularly galling since it refers not to sustaining the life of students but of HDH’s financial viability. 

One of the “choices” offered is the possibility of two students sharing a 275 square foot studio. As members of Graduate Council recently wrote, “Expecting two adult graduate students to bunk, eat, and store clothes in the tiny ‘efficiencies’ that barely fit a single person, with a cafe table also serving as the only desk and barely space for a single chair, is dehumanizing.” 

Low income BIPOC students and families will be especially vulnerable to the necessity of making such a “choice” which, in reality, is no choice at all. The suggestion that this is a viable option recalls arguments from Ethnic Studies research about how racism and conquest have depended on comparing BIPOC to animals that can be herded in pens. While different in kind and intensity, the promotion of this new housing “choice” is nonetheless continuous with longer histories in which marginalized people have been imagined as subhuman and hence insensitive to the stresses and pains of crowded living situations, including slave quarters, cramped Indigenous boarding schools, farm worker labor camps, Chinatowns, ghettos, barrios, and prisons. From that perspective, the rate hikes both symbolically and materially undermine UCSD’s EDI goals, as well as its aspirations to become a Hispanic Serving Institution.

The administration has denied responsibility for the hikes by claiming that HDH is “a self-supporting auxiliary enterprise.” But that is not true. In UC policy, an auxiliary enterprise is “not required to be entirely sel-fsupporting. Chancellors may subsidize auxiliary enterprises with appropriate available campus funds.”  Recalling our discussion of diversity rhetoric, this is an egregious example of people in power using false bureaucratic language to disavow their power.  

The UCSD Faculty Association has shown that HDH’s budget shortfall is largely the result of the Chancellor’s expansive building spree. The administration has committed $58 million in HDH housing reserves to capital projects, including the new Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood. The administration has also acquired 90 acres of land from the city of La Jolla for a development that will include a hotel, wellness center, conference space and housing for retired faculty. It also plans to buy a parcel of land just off campus and build a seven story “Innovation Center.” The Chancellor’s investment in making a massive mark on campus at the expense of graduate students is consistent with longer histories of settler-colonial land appropriation and monumental imperial infrastructure projects. 

The Chancellor recently emailed the campus with reminders of prior good works for graduate students and the promise of more to come in the form of summer “opportunities,” but details are disturbingly sparse. It is imortant to look at housing costs in relation to the salaries and stipends that graduate students receive at UCSD, but the bottom line is that most TA-ships and fellowship stipends are about 20% lower than those of programs that we compete with for graduate students. These competing programs already offer summer research support in addition, without the prospect of 30% rent increases and a further 3% hike per year into the future. The Chancellor’s email thus seems like a brazen PR campaign in which he makes vague promises while denying  responsibility and outsourcing pain to the most vulnerable departments and graduate students.  

We believe graduate students have the right to affordable housing. We join the UCSD faculty association in demanding “decent, single-occupancy housing at 30% or less of guaranteed gross graduate student income as the starting point for an HDH system that is subject to robust shared governance and faculty oversight.” In light of the ongoing hardship of rents even without the new increases, we also demand increases in graduate student support. To be competitive, we need at a minimum a 20% increase in our stipends and at least one year of a summer dissertation research stipend equivalent to one quarter of TA salary. In recognition of the extra visa costs for international students, we also demand an extra $8,000 stipend for international students. 

Statement Against Anti-Asian and Anti-Asian American Violence in the United States and Globally

The Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego recognizes, denounces, and condemns the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that have permeated our country over the past year and that are tied to hundreds of years of similar such violence embedded in colonialism, xenophobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia among other discriminatory factors. Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native American communities (mistaken for Asian descent) have been deeply impacted by attacks that have caused physical and psychological harm. 

While reported incidents number in the thousands, recent assaults against Asian and Asian American women yesterday in Atlanta, against elderly and others include attacks on a 52-year-old woman who was shoved in Queens, an 83-year-old woman punched on public transit in San Diego, a 91-year-old man, a 60-year-old man and 55-year-old woman shoved in Oakland’s Chinatown, a 61-year-old man in Brooklyn whose face was slashed while riding the subway, a 36-year-old man stabbed in Manhattan’s Chinatown, a disabled 51-year-old elementary school teacher’s aide beaten by his own cane in LA County, a 27-year-old Air Force veteran beaten in LA’s Koreatown and the deadly assault of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco. In addition, various press reports and additional evidence point to many more incidents of anti-Asian assaults, violence and harassment that have gone unreported

We support the national efforts of the Stop AAPI Hate organization and ask all students, faculty, staff, and community members to report any incidents including 

but not limited to online harassment, violent, racist, or hateful language and any threats to the health, well-being and safety of our community to the Stop AAPI Hate website, and to other community led grassroots organizations working within an abolitionist framework to act against anti-Asian violence. Additional organizations where you can report incidents or seek support include: Asian Pacific Environmental Network, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Asian American Feminist Collective, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, South Asian Americans Leading Together, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Empowered Pacific Islander Communities. We also encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings, to travel in groups, and practice community support efforts for those who might be attacked verbally and/or physically during this time and into the future. Check on one another. This is a painful time compounded by social isolation, if you need to speak with someone and need support, please reach out to the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association or to another community-based organization that you trust.  

These incidents remind us of the need for direct actions and resources to support Asian and Asian American students, staff, faculty, and community members as well as other communities of color and groups targeted by white supremacist individuals, groups and organizations. We bring attention to the fact that those being most impacted by violence: Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Arab and cis + trans women of color, have long been the most vulnerable to the intersections of state and gender-based violence. We call on the UCSD community to condemn white supremacist organizations and demand that the administration allocate financial resources dedicated to creating an equitable and safe environment for all Asian American, Pacific Islander, and BIPOC community members. We send our thoughts, support, and profound wishes for strength, wellness, safety and healing to the Asian and Asian American members of our community and across the world. We stand with you and all BIPOC as relatives seeking justice and healing. 
(posted on March 17, 2001)

Statement on Anti-Black Violence

The Department of Ethnic Studies affirms that Black lives, Black people, and Black Studies
matter. We are wholeheartedly and unequivocally in solidarity with protests across the country, and stand with those across the University of California campuses in demanding decolonization,racial justice, abolition, and a future beyond policing and colonial state violence. In response to the brutal murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony Mcdade, George Floyd, David McAtee, and innumerable other disproportionately Black and Indigenous victims of racist police and vigilante violence, we stand with the nationwide uprising against a white supremacist police state that continues to kill with impunity. To claim that “Black Lives Matter” is to fundamentally challenge the foundational logic of the U.S.––to assert that a nation-state predicated on historical and present structures of chattel slavery/carcerality, occupation and Indigenous peoples’ genocide, imperialism, and domestic and transnational militarized violence must be abolished.

We denounce the UC system’s complicity in the development of surveillance technologies and militarized weaponry deployed against protesters, as well as the role the UC police department has played in anti-Black violence across UC campuses. Reforms such as de-escalation training or community policing do little to eliminate the disproportionate use of force against people of color. Because of this, we join our voices to the growing chorus of people demanding the defunding and dismantling of modern police departments and the redirection of taxpayer funds to policies and programs that address the structural underpinnings of inequality and violence in the US.

We also reject the UCSD administration’s calls for peace, dialogue, order, and calm in light of the urgency of ending the continued killings and disproportionate criminalization, arrests, and incarceration of Black people. Rhetorical change will not solve this. This crisis requires systemic change, in our university, in our state, and in our country.

The Department of Ethnic Studies also recognizes the continuous marginalization of Black people and Black Studies across our campus and intends to advocate for strengthening this field at all levels, including in Ethnic Studies. Further, we denounce UCSD’s continued inaction around white supremacist groups on campus such as Identity Evropa. An adequate response requires a denunication of white supremacist violence as well as a holistic rethinking of how to build and expand curricula and spaces on campus that meet Black students’ physical and mental health, as well as intellectual needs.

In solidarity with the Black Student Union, we call on UCSD to immediately meet past and present demands made by Black students, faculty and staff, and other students, faculty, and staff of color. The University of California––and UCSD specifically––continues to fail Black students, faculty, and staff who are consistently and starkly underrepresented here. Some of the current statistics have only moderately improved since the 2010 “Compton Cookout”; other numbers have barely moved at all. There are no excuses for this drastic underrepresentation of Black people. We demand that UCSD be transparent about the demographic data of our campus so that we can keep the university accountable.

As scholars working within a university system that supports the carceral state and actively participates in the dehumanization of Black people, we, as Ethnic Studies faculty, staff, and students, commit to the following actions:

  1. We will work with the #CopsOffCampus campaign at UCSD to organize educational events on defunding police as a first step, and strategizing for demilitarization and depolicing. As part of that commitment, we add our voices to the demand that UCSD disclose records of police misconduct on campus (mandatory under California Senate Bill 1421);
  2. We will continue to push for more targeted and expedient ways to recruit, retain, and ensure resources for Black students, staff, and faculty across all divisions at UC San Diego;
  3. We commit to a process of self-critique and examination toward creating a material and structural plan to address our own need for growth in Black Studies and greater support for Black students, faculty, and staff. We will organize an Ethnic Studies Committee on “Abolition, Anti-Imperial, Anti-Racist, and Decolonial Action” to continue strategizing for scholarly and political actions amongst Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and all other marginalized communities on campus and the wider UC system, and to pressure the administration to address and denounce continued white supremacist violence on campus.
  4. We will dedicate the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Department to highlighting the work of Black and Indigenous scholars (including graduate students and alumni) and center conversations and strategies around abolition and decolonization. 

Statement on Anti-Muslim Racism

The Department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD condemns the terrorist attacks on mosques in Aotearoa (New Zealand) carried out on March 14, 2019. We understand this event to be part of the global rise of white supremacy which is built on actively perpetrating violence against Indigenous peoples around the world, Black people, Latinx, Arab, Muslims, Jewish people, people of color, and all people who cannot be accepted into the folds of a capitalist, heteropatriarchal, misogynist world order. We understand this violence to be in continuum with other violent structures such as genocide of Indigenous peoples in Aotearoa and all other white settler colonial states, incarceration of Black people in plantation/police states, and increasingly dangerous borders around white settler states, and colonial occupations and invasions around the world.  

We urge those who consider themselves to be in solidarity with Muslims to work at holding ourselves and people in our everyday lives accountable for how we think and talk about Muslims and all other racialized people, and Indigenous peoples.  We are attentively listening to Muslim students asking for continual discussions about Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and racism on our campuses across the US.  Our heartfelt solidarity is with everybody affected by the recent attacks. We acknowledge that some in our communities are afraid, angry, confused, sad and simply fatigued fighting anti-Muslim racism and its attendant violences every day. We respect those feelings, and call out to allies to do the work of supporting our Muslim colleagues and students, and continuing to work towards a world where nobody has to live in fear.

As part of our commitment to this work, we have established a critical Muslim studies position in the Department. We have offered courses on Arab and Muslim American identities and cultures in the past, and future courses will focus on Black, Latinx and other Muslims in America and questions of solidarity. We are also in the initial stages of collaborating with social justice groups on this campus to bring Muslim speakers and workshop facilitators to address questions of Islamophobia and strategies for resistance. We will continue to think of various ways to support Muslims students at UCSD. 

Statement on Central American Migrant Caravans

As the faculty and graduate students of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego, we express our concern with the ongoing refugee and humanitarian crisis currently taking place en las Americas at the U.S.-Mexico border. As scholars committed to making transparent the linked processes of war, militarism, settler colonialism, and forced migration, we wish to affirm that asylum seekers have rights to humane treatment under international law and to have asylum claims fairly and promptly adjudicated. We stand in solidarity with Central American refugees, and join various international migration and refugee organizations, as well as academic professional organizations like the Latina/o Studies Association, in “condemn[ing] all forms of violence used against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, who have a human right to migrate and move across political territories in search of security and well-being.” Also, as scholars of race and ethnicity, we denounce the xenophobic, race-baiting tactics employed by US American and Mexican political actors who circulate inaccurate or decontextualized information about the migrant caravans, to stoke fear in an effort to gain electoral support.

We urge the UC San Diego community, as well as residents of the southern California region, to become better informed about the complex factors that compel large numbers of our fellow Americans to flee to our southern border. It is imperative that we engage in honest discussions about the U.S. role in triggering the mass violence and economic devastation in Central America's Northern Triangle through its long-standing economic, political, and military interventions, as well as its outsized contribution to climate-change-induced droughts and hurricanes in the region.

For information about San Diego-based efforts supporting the migrant caravans that we can donate to or volunteer for, see: Otay Mesa Detention Resistance (OMDR), Food for Migrant Caravan/Comida para la Caravana, and Border Angels/Ángeles de la Frontera, and San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN). For legal funds, consider supporting the “Al Otro Lado” Medical-Legal Project. If you are interested in going to Tijuana to volunteer with on-the-ground support efforts there, you may find more information here: Comité Estratégico de Ayuda Humanitaria Tijuana, Solidarity with Refugee Caravan in Tijuana, Enclave Caracol, Jardín de Mariposas, and Food Not Bombs.

(posted on December 17, 2018)

Response to Racist Graffiti on UCSD Campus-April 8, 2016

The Ethnic Studies Department condemns in the strongest terms the racist graffiti at UCSD and, more broadly, the newly virulent forms of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and homophobia that characterize contemporary politics. The most recent incident of hateful speech seeks to intimidate and harass Latinxs in particular, and it fosters a hostile climate that threatens to compromise the right of students to pursue their educations, and the ability of faculty and staff to do their jobs. We offer our steadfast support to the Raza Resource Center, and to student communities of color most directly and intensely affected by these events. We ask campus administration to undertake an investigation of this incident and to take swift disciplinary action against any found responsible for such acts.

On Friday April 8, at the start of Triton Day weekend, the sidewalks in front of the Raza Resource Center and along Library Walk were covered in implicitly and explicitly anti-Latinx slogans. Vandals wrote in chalk statements including “Trump 2016,” “Deport Them All,” “Build the Wall,” “Mexico will Pay,” and “f**k Mexicans,” deploying the racist rhetoric used especially by the Republican Presidential candidate who has called Mexican immigrants “criminals and rapists,” and who has pledged both mass deportations and to build a wall on the US/Mexico border and make Mexico pay. A slogan written on a chalkboard and denigrating an introductory Ethnic Studies course was also witnessed on Triton Day.

These incidents at UCSD are thus not isolated, but are part of a larger pattern of similar events at dozens of colleges and universities encouraged and facilitated by the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, Black and Latinx student protesters at Trump rallies have been subject to extreme verbal and physical assaults:

  • Trump recently rented facilities for a rally at Vodosta State University of Georgia and forcibly ejected 30 silently protesting Black college students.
  • Immigrant rights activists at Iowa State University protesting Trump’s appearance at a college football game were confronted by Trump supporters who shouted “send the illegals back to where they came from!,” while one of them tore up a protester’s sign.
  • Latinx students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond protesting a Trump rally were shoved, spat on, and told to “Go back where you came from” by the candidate’s supporters.
  • At a rally in Louisville Kentucky a group of white men led by an infamous white supremacist shouted racist and misogynist insults at Shiya Nwagnguma, a Black student from the University of Louisville, before finally shoving her out of the building.
  • In Miami Ariel Rojas, one of eight immigrant rights protesters from Florida International University, was kicked and violently dragged out of a rally by a Trump supporter.
  • At numerous high school athletic contests, slogans similar to those found at UCSD have been used by white students as racial epithets to taunt their Black and Latinx opponents.

In the current political climate, and with the express encouragement of several political candidates, conversations about race and immigration have become increasingly anti-Mexican. The champions of this rhetoric have forged a climate of impunity while simultaneously making public spaces dangerous for people of color, particularly Black, Latinx and Arab/Muslim people. The racist graffiti covering the public space outside the Raza Resource Center and Library Walk intentionally extended that hostility to UCSD, in clear violation of our “Principles of Community,” but more importantly with the express desire to intimidate and harass not only existing UCSD students, faculty, and staff but also (by timing their inscriptions to coincide with Triton Week) prospective students and their friends and families.

As a department with a longstanding commitment to educating about and confronting this kind of racism on our campus, we recognize that these incidents are not limited to a single political campaign, but are part of broader social divisions in our society that produce racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and discrimination against those with disabilities. In 2010, a series of racial incidents following the so-called “Compton Cookout” produced a crisis on campus that students, staff, and faculty described as a Racial State of Emergency. Student demands resulted in the creation of the Raza Resource Center, the Black Resource Center, the UCSD Inter-tribal Resource Center, and a new diversity requirement. More recently, students have demanded an API-MEDA resource center, for which UCSD has just now agreed to try to locate space. We thus invite the larger campus community to join us and allied departments and programs as we continue to formulate constructive solutions to problems of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we call on the administration to support departmental programs and proposals to expand teaching and research on these issues and engender a campus climate based on openness, tolerance, and mutual respect.

Response to UCSD Sun God Incident involving Native American Cultural Appropriation

As faculty and graduate students in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC-San Diego, we strongly condemn the appropriation of Native American attire and cultural symbolism as a purportedly celebratory gesture at the recent Sun-God festival. We are especially dismayed that such displays of insensitive and inconsiderate behavior should follow so closely on the heels of not just the Compton Cookout, but more importantly, the large-scale educational efforts launched by communities of color and allies last quarter. Such displays of “playing Native” are an example of chronic problems and archetypes that degrade Indigenous communities. As is the case of the recent controversy at the 2010 Olympics – when white Russian figure skaters donned native gear as their attempts to ‘honor’ Aboriginal peoples – such displays, rather than being respectful gestures, risk in fact performing a mockery of Native culture through daffy performances typical of ‘playing Indian.’

Whether intended or not, we, as a campus community, need to be accountable to each other in recognizing the forms of symbolic violence perpetuated against marginalized communities by our choices and actions. While lack of intent, knowledge, or understanding, are not particularly acceptable excuses, they do, however, signify a larger institutional and societal problem that allows such incidents to re-occur ad infinitum.Consequently, it becomes incumbent upon us as students and educators – but more importantly, as critically responsible social actors – to educate and hold each other accountable about the implications and consequences of our actions. It is in this spirit, that we support the NASA statement as well as offer a constructive critique to the response published in the Guardian.

The act of ‘playing Indian’ draws from a long “cultural heritage” in symbolic appropriations of Indiannness and Native iconography that serves to replace, and keep invisible, the brutal history of genocide, settler colonialism and oppression about which many today remain unaware, and too few are taught in school. This history includes such official policies as the Dawes Act, which divided Native reservation land into individual plots in order to deracinate and destroy tribal/familial ways of life while giving leftover land to white settlers; the environmental hazards and economic devastation produced from mineral mining in Indian reservations without their consent; cinematic depictions, especially in the Western genre, that made entertainment out of shooting and killing Indians; the ongoing historical struggle over broken treaties which created most of the “free” land upon which the United States, including UCSD itself is plotted; the forced removal and Americanization programs that were forced upon American Indians; decades of so called boarding schools in which the US government stole children from their communities and sought to eradicate their cultural traditions through violent programs in white-washing and forced assimilation.  That Sun-God is supposed to evoke Indigeneity without ever speaking directly to indigenous issues speaks volumes about the ways in which Indigenous and Native bodies and lives are constantly re-presented in ways that are ultimately designed to wipe out the historical violence perpetrated upon them; to whitewash the violent relations through which U.S. nationhood was/is made possible; and to recuperate nativeness/indigeneity so as to recall the romanticized figure of the “noble savage” as a consenting ancestor of the nation, and willing playmate of UCSD students.

A recent student editorial in the UCSD Guardian is symptomatic of the historical marginalization of indigeneity within the context of American understandings of race. While the writer recognizes the significance and severity of the Compton Cookout which targeted Black students, the article suggests that the Sun God incident constitutes an entirely “different story,” one where students merely threw on their old “Pocahontas” costumes and ‘paid respect’ to the festival by sporting Sioux-inspired gear because it was deemed cool. The author suggests that this act was one of flattery not mockery, since it reveals the melting pot heritage and tradition of America – one that represents our collective right to appreciate the art and culture of all communities, including Native Americans. This ‘appreciation’ of art and culture, however, rarely, if ever, translates into a collective recognition of Indian politics and history, one bound to unresolved demands by Native tribes for economic, environmental, and legal justice. Indeed, the Sun God festival itself is a display of “honoring” San Diego’s Native tribes without publicly educating people about the struggles that confront them.

Moreover, the article does not account for the ways in which structural and institutional issues of race impact Native and indigenous communities. Indeed, while issues of symbolic racism are deemed to affect African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos, they do not seem to equally apply to Native Americans. This is especially insidious considering that Native Americans constitute a less visible demographic (less than 1% of the student body at UCSD is Native American), despite San Diego County’s distinction as having the largest number of Native American reservations — communities rich with histories, and contemporary cultures and politics, that few in the UCSD community ever learn about. In this context, one becomes free to pick or “borrow” cultural traditions, based on the assumption that the represented other has no say in such acts, thereby emptying such appropriative performances of any meaning.  If, however, one actually listens to the NASA students on campus or Native American community members who are our neighbors, we would hear both the opposition to such representations and voices of active self-presentation.

The disregard for native presence and sovereignty is further demonstrated by the University of California’s refusal to formally repatriate the remains found at the Chancellor’s House, under the terms of NAGPRA (the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act). The reduction of the remains to “scientific artifacts” – those to be collected, studied, circulated and commodified – represents a continuation of the violence of academic research and knowledge production native people remain positioned as objects of anthropological research and curiosity. In the context of such institutional indifference, it becomes particularly imperative that we reformulate our practices of knowledge production and the practices we use in fighting for libratory social justice even or especially when we assume that our politics already adequately address every subaltern group in the United States. Coalitional politics among communities of color, the project underlying Ethnic Studies, must be based on honest assessments of how our communities are racialized, gendered, sexualized and colonized in very different ways if we are truly to achieve libratory futures for all. Just as the problem with the ‘Compton Cookout’ was not simply the party, but the party line, we will continue to call for the repatriation of the Kumeyaay remains, greater resources for recruiting and retaining Native American students, and greater integration of contemporary Native American concerns into the UCSD curriculum, in Ethnic Studies as well as other disciplines.

The cultural appropriation of Native American culture is not simply a symptom of a process of racism, but rather represents a multiplicity of issues, described by Native feminist scholar Andrea Smith as the three pillars of heteropatriarchy, settler colonialism, and white supremacy. Indeed, Native issues are often conflated or reduced to an effect of racism when questions of land rights and tribal sovereignty do not coincide or align with our usual understandings of “race,” racism, and the civil rights-based framework. Yet, if we are, as a campus community, to take seriously the critical complexities that surround issues of social justice, then we must develop a serious understanding of and commitment to the incorporation of Indigeneity in the intellectual and political struggle for a more equitable and just world.

Response to UCSD Campus Crisis Precipitated by the Event Dubbed the "Compton Cookout"

As faculty and graduate students in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC-San Diego, we unequivocally condemn the February 15th off-campus party, dubbed the "Compton Cookout," as an example of racist, classist and misogynist stereotyping that degrades Black people through disparaging representations of so-called "African American culture."  Like similar events thrown on college and university campuses across the United States, this "theme party" in one quick, broad stroke reduced the complex lived experience of a heterogeneous racialized community to a caricatured depiction of cultural deviancy. All the more troubling, this particular themed party was intentionally organized to mock ongoing celebrations of African American History month in the U.S. and specifically here at UC San Diego.

This "monstrosity" (as some of the organizers called it) has a violent and racist history that began with blackface minstrel shows in the U.S., starting in the early 19th century, heightening with popularity during the Abolition Movement, and extending into 20th century theater and film.  Both blackface minstrel performances and parties such as the “Compton Cookout” reinforce and magnify existing material and discursive structures of Black oppression, while denying Black people any sense of humanity, negating not only the actual lives that exist behind these caricatured performances but the structural conditions that shape Black life in the US.  Far from celebrating Black history, events such as this one are marked celebrations of the play of power characteristic of whiteness in general and white minstrelsy in particular: the ability to move in and move out of a racially produced space at will; the capacity to embody a presumed deviance without actually ever becoming or being it; the privilege to revel in this raced and gendered alterity without ever having to question or encounter the systemic and epistemic violence that produces hierarchies of difference in the first place. Moreover, like their blackface minstrel predecessors, the organizers and attendees of the “Compton Cookout” demonstrate the inextricability of performances of white mastery over Black bodies from structures of patriarchy: by instructing their women ‘guests’ on how to dress (“wear cheap clothes”), behave (“start fights and drama”), and speak (“have a very limited vocabulary”), these young men not only paint a degrading and dehumanizing picture of African American women as so-called “ghetto chicks,” but offer a recipe for the objectification of all women—made permissible, once again, through the appropriation of blackness.

Contrary to what some have claimed, the recent "Compton Cookout" is neither an aberration nor unique. Rather, it is best understood as part of a broader social reality that despite the celebrated juridical/political advancements achieved by people of color in the United States through centuries of struggle, full racial justice remains a goal, rather than accomplishment. The same month that we witnessed Barack Obama sworn in as the first Black man to reach the White House, the number of Black men imprisoned in the United States reached one million. Meanwhile, the backlash against affirmative action in public institutions that began a decade ago in the state of California has reduced representation of people of color in institutions ranging from the University of Michigan Law School to the New Haven Fire Department to public school districts across the US, making the criminal justice system the only state institution in which African Americans are still sought after and included in large numbers. Indeed, the unacknowledged slow reversal of the promise of Brown v. Board of Education is evident here at UCSD: Black students currently represent less than 2% of the undergraduate population here at UC San Diego, a percentage that is scarcely better than the 1% representation of Black people among faculty and academic professionals. Given this, despite the protestations of its organizers, events like the "Compton Cookout" are never “harmless fun.”  Rather, they are the cultural matter through which raced and gendered hierarchies of difference are reproduced and instantiated; they are the venues in which white privilege is rationalized through the representation of African Americans as less civilized and more deviant, less human and more animalistic, less deserving of education and more worthy of satire.

Indeed, the “Compton Cookout” demonstrates that as a country and as a campus, we have yet to create the institutional systems that would make places of higher education more accessible to and less alienating for Black students and other students of color. Indeed, if recent events on campus are any indicator, as a campus, we have only begun the work of recognizing our own complicities in the problem at hand. As scholars of race and power in the United States and transnationally, the faculty and students of the Ethnic Studies Department and our affiliates are well-versed in the history and intersectional analysis of events such as this recent party, and the continuing raced, classed, and gendered structures of inequality that it represents. We remain ready to assist the administration in not only developing "teach-ins" but also institutional policies capable of radically changing the campus climate within which such events can be conceived of as ‘harmless’ and be carried out unchecked.

In that vein, the Department of Ethnic Studies calls upon the University of California, San Diego administration to view this event not as an incident of wayward students violating the principles of UCSD’s community, but rather to engage this event as a moment to re-think the logic of institutional accountability: who is responsible for creating a campus climate of permissibility around racial/gendered representational violence, and who pays the price of such a climate? We applaud the intellectual, political, and emotional work that is already being done by students, faculty and staff around the party and the broader issues it points to; at the same time, we recognize that moments such as this place additional and exhausting demands on a limited number of bodies, in part due to administrative expectations that students, faculty, and staff of color will serve as educators and crisis-managers, counselors and public representatives of the University. We therefore call upon the administration to model institutional accountability at the highest levels by taking concrete steps to make UCSD the educational and social environment promised by the Principles of Community—a university that is not only accessible to and affordable for African Americans and other students of color, but one in which students of color can feel valued, safe, and protected.

Other Responses to the UCSD Campus Crisis

(posted on February 19, 2010)


On the University of California and Public Education

The UC San Diego Department of Ethnic Studies endorses and will actively support the September 24th walkout of staff, faculty, and students across University of California campuses. Over the past two decades, the state of California has been a testing ground for national and global efforts to privatize public institutions and resources in ways that disproportionately affect the state’s most vulnerable populations.

In this context, the University of California’s recent actions—drastic fee hikes, unequal pay cuts for workers, and the reduction and/or elimination of crucial University services—cannot be excused as a singular response to a fiscal ‘state of emergency’ brought on by state budget cuts. Rather, the adoption of the Higher Education Compact must be understood as an extension of the logic through which elected and appointed officials make political decisions about which public resources “deserve” protection and which are expendable; which communities can be abandoned and which constituencies may carry on business as usual.

By instituting a pernicious combination of fee hikes and salary and financial aid reductions, state and University policymakers have effectively shifted the financial burden of public needs to private parties—UC students, workers, and their families. For many current and future students, particularly those from historically under-represented communities, this ‘compact’ has seriously endangered their already-limited access to a UC education.

For these reasons, we support the September 24th Day of Action, and urge our colleagues, students, and other San Diego community members to join us in demanding that the State Legislature, Board of Regents, and the University of California administration be held accountable for these regressive measures. We recognize that the very future of public education is at stake, and we call on all concerned to make every effort to ensure that all Californians are guaranteed access to their university.

Coverage of the September 24 Walk-out/Teach-in: Hear students, faculty, and staff express their concerns about UC and CSU budget cuts and their impact on education and California's future on this video excerpt from Fox coverage of the UCSD walkout/teach-in on September 24.

(posted on September 26, 2009)

Refuse to Report your Furlough Days

UCSD will require faculty to report which days they take their furloughs. But any such report would be a fiction.

We’re forbidden to take furloughs on days we teach and we can’t take them on the days we prepare for class without sacrificing the quality of instruction.

We can’t take furloughs on service days or research days unless we want to diminish our chances for tenure and promotion, since the requirements for promotion will stay the same.

We can’t take furloughs over the holiday breaks because that is when we go to conferences and prepare for the classes that will take place the next quarter.

This amounts to a Catch 22, a rule that presents the illusion of choice while precluding any real choice. If we report our furlough days we become complicit with this illusion, render our labor invisible, and violate our sense of personal and professional integrity.

The UCSD Ethnic Studies Department will thus refuse to comply with the demand that we report nonexistent furlough days. Instead, we propose to in effect donate our furlough days back to the students, their families, and the people of California by dedicating a portion of our teaching, research, and service to the project of defending public education. We urge other UC programs and departments to do the same.

"Indigenous Studies Engages Ethnic Studies" Mission Statement

On Friday, May 8, 2009, UCSD's Ethnic Studies Department is hosting a day-long symposium: "Indigenous Studies Engages Ethnic Studies." Following is the Symposium mission statement; for more information about the symposium schedule and events please check the event blog:

As scholars in the Ethnic Studies Department at UCSD, we stand incredibly proud of the cutting edge critical race and ethnic studies work developed in our department, and in its potential to push the limits of the larger Ethnic Studies project. In this spirit, we find that in order for Ethnic Studies to move beyond the usual emphasis on immigration, diaspora and slavery paradigms, the critical potential of Indigenous Studies should become an integral part of our intellectual agenda. Just as the scholarship ‘about’ people of color does not describe our notion and practice of Ethnic Studies, scholarship ‘about’ indigenous people must reflect more than merely the violent history of the academy within indigenous communities. It must, in fact, engage the sophisticated indigenous theories, which have been circulating for many years, especially those that confront the ways in which colonial power still operates in nation-states. In the last few years, a number of graduate students and faculty have taken important steps towards facilitating this integration. These include the creation of the “Voicing Indigeneity” podcast, the Post-colonial Futures in a Not-Yet Post-colonial World Conference, and the proposal for an indigenous studies focused cluster hire. Building on these efforts, we are organizing a one-day critical indigenous studies symposium to be held on May 8, 2009. The symposium focuses on native feminism scholarship because we believe it offers a critical perspective missing in both indigenous studies and in most analysis of race, gender, sexuality, colonialism and citizenship. We have invited Andrea Smith, Audra Simpson and Noenoe Silva, scholars who are at the forefront of this field of thought. Additionally, we have invited 3-4 senior graduate students who are not only moving the field in new directions, but more excitingly are doing so by employing theories emerging from our Ethnic Studies department, thereby highlighting the critical possibilities that lie at the interstices of these fields. Furthermore, this symposium anticipates our desire to improve the recruitment of indigenous graduate students, post-docs and faculty.

We hope the department will actively participate in this symposium in order to push the limits of our scholarship and political commitments, whether they directly fall within what is traditionally seen as the indigenous field or not. Ultimately, this symposium is an invitation to engage in a productive troubling of the ethnic studies project as well as to expand our understanding of what indigenous studies can be.

(posted on March 12, 2009)

Addendum to the “Statement on Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip”

The Department of Ethnic Studies “Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip” has elicited a great deal of comment since it was posted in January of 2009.  We have followed the responses with great interest and, in response, offer the following addendum to the original Department Statement on Gaza, with the goal of providing a context for our original statement.

As described in its vision statement, the intellectual and political goal of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego is to pursue the “comparative, relational, and interdisciplinary” study of “fundamental theoretical and political questions regarding the critical conceptualization of social categories…in order to interrogate questions of power, violence and inequality.” The department’s “Statement on the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip”  exemplifies this larger intellectual project of critical engagement in the interests of social justice. All too often, outside and within the University, commentators express confusion regarding the ‘appropriate’  role of academic scholarship in controversial or political issues. As the University of California’s Policy on Academic Freedom reminds us, sound scholarship need not be "dispassionate," "disinterested" or concerned only with "the logic of the facts."  Rather, sound scholarship "can and frequently does communicate salient viewpoints about important and controversial questions" ( It is in this continued spirit of rigorous intellectual critique, and in the interest of maintaining productive dialogue, that we offer the following with the goal of clarifying our statement:

Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to produce and engage scholarship about how power operates in the production and execution of subjection and subjugation, including its most visceral enactments through institutional and individual practices of violence and death. Emerging out of the late 20th century political struggles of people of color in US and colonized peoples globally, ethnic studies scholarship understands the process of racialization and the implementation of racial violence as integral to the execution of power. In this sense, ethnic studies is neither a multicultural project to include ‘different peoples,’ ‘different cultures,’ ‘different races,’ and ‘different nationalities,’ nor does it simply teach about histories of oppression, struggle and resistance. Rather, it is an intellectual project that uses race as a modality through which to understand how power works through the production of difference to construct, reproduce, and transform social formations.

Key to this project are the following concepts:

Race is a social construct that makes meaning of relations of power and difference. It is often signified through, but is not necessarily related to phenotype or notions of biological difference, as it was in 19th and early 20th century Europe and the Americas. While race is a social construct, it manifests in material inequalities in the form of racisms.

Racialization represents a social process in which racial meanings are extended to new sites and bodies. By producing seemingly natural categories of inside and outside, superior and inferior, racialization works to demarcate the limits of social existence and political enfranchisement.  Racialization operates in historically and geographically specific ways; the process by which modern US ‘races’ (black, white, native American, Asian, Latino, Arab etc.) have been naturalized as social categories is only one version.

Racism deploys codified concepts of group difference in order to assign lesser or greater value to the lives and epistemologies of different populations, thus both producing and rationalizing structures of material inequality.

Racial violence is a state-sanctioned and/or extralegal mode of power exercised in order to control, subjugate or exterminate a people due to the idea that the latter always already pose a threat to the civilization of the former. Racial violence can take many forms, some of which are immediately recognizable (imperialism, enslavement, genocide) and some of which may appear less immediately tangible (economic deprivation, infrastructural abandonment, profiling, incarceration).

Racial logic functions so that an entire people are made to embody the antinorm: deviance, primitiveness, irrationality, violence, etc. Constructed as both outside of and threatening to the presumed ideals of modernity and interests of ‘civilization’ and ‘humanity,’ these populations are thus rendered ‘disposable.’ Racial logic is integral to how acts of racial violence can be represented as ‘normal,’ ‘reasonable,’ or ‘necessary.’

In accordance with our commitment to the study of power, violence, and inequality in the interests of social justice and with respect for the history of ethnic studies as an academic field born from the convergence of activism and intellectual labor, the department has regularly issued collective statements on our website in response to contemporary political, social and cultural events. These include statements on the uneven impact of the 2007 San Diego fires and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina across racial, ethnic and class groups; the importance of protecting academic freedom precisely at times of political conflict; and the issue of immigrant rights. This list in no way represents the limits of our critical scope but stands as an example of the various and diverse sites in which racism results in uneven access to equality, freedom of movement, and survival. While the precipitating events may be diverse, each of these statements share the following characteristics:

  • Each has been issued in response to incidents of racial violence, and uses the analytical tools at our disposal as Ethnic Studies scholars to unpack the racial logics underpinning the event in question.
  • All emerge out of the ethical and political imperative that drives the praxis of critique as a critical tool for intellectual and political discourse.
  • None target individuals or populations, but rather offer a critique of structural formations—nation-states, governmental entities, the media.

The Department of Ethnic Studies’ statement on the recent invasion of Gaza by the state of Israel is, like each previous statement, a critique of racial violence. Rather than suggesting that Israel’s latest act against Gaza is unique, the statement seeks to contextualize this state act of violence within a global history of racial violence that includes not only historical genocides (such as those against indigenous peoples in the Americas; Jews, Roma, and others in mid-twentieth century Europe, and the minority Tutsi in late twentieth-century Rwanda) but African chattel slavery, US military and economic policies in Latin America, and the continuing economic deprivation, infrastructural abandonment, and wholesale incarceration of Black, brown, and poor people in the US.  Our critique is of the use of racial power and racial violence (as defined above) by the state of Israel; it is not an attempt to label Israelis or Jewish people as racist. Indeed, as scholars we recognize that social justice often demands critical attention to the dangers of nationalism when used to conflate the state with its individual subjects in order to justify, undergird, or rationalize violence against the few in the name of an imagined many. As a study of our previous statements reveals, we do not consider Israel alone to be a state that executes racial violence; we have provided similar critiques of state and extra- legal institutions within the United States time and again.

In making this statement, the Department of Ethnic Studies joins a national and international groundswell by academics at colleges and universities across the country who have felt impelled to offer an intellectual, political, and ethical critique of the Israeli State’s actions toward Palestine (links to some of these statements are available on the sidebar adjacent to this post). By exercising our academic freedom in this manner, we are continuing a tradition within the academy punctuated by other large public campaigns for social justice, such the anti-apartheid movement on campuses around the country in the 1980s. We engage in this critique within the spirit of critical theory, the philosophy of cultural critique first introduced by the German Jewish intellectuals of the Frankfurt school, which believes that it is our ethical responsibility as intellectuals to critique, rather than merely explain society. Critical theory is an ethical praxis to which we have committed ourselves as intellectuals striving to achieve the highest level of excellence in our scholarship. That excellence is only achievable if we are able to apply our collective knowledge toward social justice.

(posted on February 24, 2009)

On the Racial Violence in the Gaza Strip

The faculty and graduate students in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California San Diego condemn the most recent actions by the State of Israel in the Gaza Strip, commencing with the air strikes that began on December 27, 2008 and the ground invasions, which started on January 4, 2009. Both have resulted in the death and mutilation of a large number of Palestinian civilians. While Israel argues that it is targeting Hamas militants, the astounding number of civilian deaths (exceeding 900 as of January 13, 2009) shows a blatant lack of concern for Palestinian lives. They result from Israel’s targeting of hospitals, mosques, schools, residential buildings and other civilian locations, a practice that cannot be supported by the self-defense argument reproduced by media outlets and endorsed by the US government.

As critical scholars in the field of racial and ethnic studies we interpret these violent actions as an indication of how, in the global order, people of color and the places they live are irrelevant to international legal instruments and moral principles. In short, the most recent deployment of the Israeli military arsenal constitutes nothing more nor less than another episode of racial violence. For this reason, we believe that the current military aggression cannot be divorced from Israel’s overall policy of violence against Palestinians, which includes the strategies deployed during periods of “cease fire” such as tactics that deny access to basic necessities including food, water and health care for the Palestinian residents of the Gaza strip. The recent aerial bombing and ground invasions further this systematic practice of racial violence preventing the Red Cross, the UN and other humanitarian organizations from providing urgently needed assistance to the people of Gaza.

In this unique historic moment, on the eve of the inauguration of the first African-American president, we expect the United States government and the American people to condemn such practices of racial violence in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, we hear a repetition of the argument that Israel is exercising its right to self-defense. It is inconceivable that a society that prides itself on its respect for human rights, and now celebrates another milestone in the road towards racial justice, fails to recognize that Israel’s military objectives, the destruction of Hamas, cannot justify the indiscriminate killing of men and women, young and old, just because they live in the Gaza Strip, because they are Palestinians. This generalized construction of the enemy is at the core of racial violence. It criminalizes a whole population. It aliments existing representations of Arabs, Muslims, and Brown people in general as ‘criminal/terrorists.’ In sum, it justifies otherwise morally untenable acts of total violence.

We hope that the Obama administration will remain consistent with its call for change, that it will issue a forceful condemnation of Israel’s killing of Palestinians, and will review long-held US policies, cutting the military, economic, and political support that provide implicit and explicit backing of Israel’s practices of racial terror.  We are convinced that only such a stance will reflect a true commitment to peace in the Middle East. More importantly, it will signal the seriousness of the call for change that is the hallmark of the incoming Obama administration.  Any policy that accepts Israel’s right to self-defense as a justification for racial massacre, in this case the systematic extermination of Palestinians, favors complicity over change.

(posted on January 25, 2009)

Racial Emergency: 2007 San Diego Fires

The Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California-San Diego acknowledges the losses suffered by all of those directly affected by the 2007 fires. As Critical Racial/Ethnic Studies scholars, however, we see as our duty to read beyond headlines, sound bites, and quick camera shots. While dealing with the fear of having our homes burnt to the ground; wondering about relatives, friends, and neighbors – even if safe with friends that offered us refuge – we could not miss how the local, national, and international media have chosen to highlight how middle and upper-middle class white San Diegans have been dealing with the havoc these fires brought to their lives: the shot of a yellow Porsche rescued by overworked firefighters; descriptions of the congenial atmosphere at the Qualcomm Stadium; the heroic male rule-breakers that stayed to save houses or returned to rescue vintage automobiles the never-ending reports on the predicament of those who did not know how to find shelters for their cats, dogs, and horses.

After watching the effects of Hurricane Katrina, however, most of us know that this is not the whole story. Certain neighborhoods, districts, suffer more losses due to their location, the materials from which they are built, a smaller tax base, and a general reluctance to tax for common protection coupled with decisions to commit resources to projects more likely to be enjoyed by the privileged few. In the aftermath of these disasters, some will have deal with insurance companies that set up all kinds of impediments to meet their claims; on the other hand, others will not have any insurance and will have to deal with government agencies that, for the most part, fail to ensure access to needed resources in a timely fashion. We can very quickly guess the racial and socioeconomic make up of the communities who will deal with insurance companies and the ones who will have to face FEMA’s redtape.

Fire and water have no political or ideological allegiances; they do not distinguish between the rich and the poor. They hit black, brown and white people on their path: Embers fly. Levies break. We are all in it together, so it seems. But why? Natural disasters do not happen in an empty space. They abruptly disclose economic and symbolic materializations of centuries of institutional (legal and corporate) decisions that position people of color in a subaltern condition. When looking at actual and symbolic effects of the 2007 San Diego fires, we cannot but notice the racial text – in its socioeconomic and symbolic dimensions – that underlies the un-mediated commentaries, especially in the media, that explicitly and implicitly compare to San Diegans to the reactions of New Orleans residents to the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to their lives. The racial text functions to explain the process of unmarking those whose bear an unequal burden during disasters like hurricanes, tsunamis, and wildfires, in a manner that makes them invisible.

Yet it seems that this ‘lesson’ from Katrina has been missed. For the past week, we have been exposed to a parade of privilege all the while pinpointed by comments about how much this situation differs from the aftermath of Katrina. We hear the staff of donation centers asking people not to give any more, telling them that Qualcomm Stadium is overwhelmed by their demonstrations of concern. What we don’t hear, however, are references to how the fires have affected working San Diegans of color, about whether and where they found refuge, speculations about how many might have lost their homes and other mementos of a lifetime. Why don’t we? That they live in the area is certain because they work in the County as janitors, nannies, cooks, gardeners and farm-workers; much of the wealth we saw parading on TV also embodies their labor power. Why don’t we hear more from and about them? We know there is a donation center operating in Chicano Park that, unlike Qualcomm Stadium, needs more donations. We know that the fires hit at least eleven of the county’s eighteen Indian reservations. We know that the border patrol has been very active, despite public denials, looking out for undocumented workers, even removing them from among evacuees at Qualcomm Stadium. We know that many of them will not seek relief because they fear ‘la migra’ and the Minute Men. We know that migrants perished in the fires without access to reverse 911 calls, official evacuations, or welcome at shelters, although we may never know how many.

We know so much while the media tell us so little about working-class San Diegans of color precisely because the prevailing representation of how San Diegans deal with natural disasters is framed by a racial text, an interpretive framework of the US social space that provides the meanings we capture when seeing or watching wealthy whites and economically dispossessed black, and brown folks in any situation. Because this racial text provides all necessary meanings, a ready-made symbolic apparatus, there is no need for explicit racial comparisons. The mere mention of Katrina by a newscaster, after a report on how much the wildfire refugees at the Qualcomm Stadium are enjoying the break from their daily routines, is enough to produce the image of San Diego as, in the words of one of our graduate students notes, a ‘model community.’

As mentioned earlier, our objective is not to minimize the impact of this disaster upon all San Diegans, including those of us who were not directly affected by the fires but had our daily lives disrupted by closed highways, bad air quality, etc. Our goal here is to unsettle the racial text by identifying its operation and commenting on that which it silences. The links below will take you to some of the analysis a number of us have produced and gathered while, like many San Diegans, we watched on TV or heard on the radio descriptions and interpretations of how San Diego County deals with the fire this time.

(posted on November 15, 2007)

Statement on Immigrant Rights

We, the Department of Ethnic Studies at UCSD, stand firmly in support of the current mass demonstrations for immigrant rights. We believe these mass actions—the largest in California history—affirm the vital importance of immigrants to our national social, cultural, economic, and political life. Current proposed immigration legislation that increases the militarization of the border, restrict access to social safety-net programs including health care, and keep children from equal access to education, function to unjustly criminalize individuals and their families. This legislation is far-reaching given the precarious boundary between “legal” and “illegal” status within many families. Such criminalization is particularly chilling in a post 9/11 atmosphere in which immigration and criminalization is often conflated with terrorism. While the current debate is focused on Latinos, these issues affect the health of social citizenship for all ethnic and racial groups. This legislation contributes to the further erosion of human rights and protections for all members of the United States.

The most egregious is the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437), which would not only make being in this country without documentation a felony, but also label anyone who assists an undocumented individual as a felon. This proposal is unfortunately similar in intention to many others before it that assumed that punishing immigrants will somehow “control” the border. This bill, and others like it, is misleading and ineffectual because it blames individuals who immigrate to help their families survive, instead of the policies that impoverish the immigrants’ homelands and force them to leave. This legislation obfuscates the role of the United States in creating the global flow of migration in the first place through international interventions, including trade agreements such as NAFTA, which affect other nations’ domestic policies in the pursuit of global capital. It is clear that the global movement of people accompanies the global movement of capital. And, it should go without saying that people who migrate—like all people—have the right to expect dignity, respect, and hope regardless of which border they cross.

(posted on May 15, 2006)

UC San Diego Scholars Make a Statement on Academic Freedom*

It is during times of political conflict and social upheaval when our most cherished national values are tested. Since the events of September 11, 2001 our nation has been struggling with the balancing act of ensuring our national security while upholding our hard fought constitutional protections such as the freedom of speech. This tension emerges quite palpably on university campuses and in the media in public discussions over academic freedom and whether scholars have the right to voice opinions that are in deep conflict with those held by much of the citizenry. We must guard steadfastly against the desire to curb our most basic freedoms in these times. This applies most especially to those of us who may wish to exercise dissent, whether it be in the town square, in a public hearing, in a place of worship, on the airwaves, or in our nation’s centers of higher education. As university scholars, we have dedicated our lives to education—through our teaching, writing, and service—and its critical role in creating and sustaining democratic societies. For this reason, we find it a reprehensible distortion of the most revered principles of education to encourage students and faculty to make lists of teachers and professors labeled as “radical” or “conservative,” instead of engaging them intellectually. Academics have an obligation and responsibility to promote critical thinking in university classrooms and in the public sphere. In other words, one of the most important parts of our job is to encourage students and publics to ask difficult and sometimes troubling questions about our society. Finally, we would also issue an urgent reminder to those who would tread on the academic freedom of others, that the very nation they wish to shelter from controversial expressions of opinion (excluding hate speech, of course) by some individuals and groups, is most at risk when we fail to also protect the rights and freedoms of those persons.

*The University of California’s own policy on academic freedom guarantees these rights as well. 

(posted on May 15, 2007)

On the Hurricane Katrina Crisis

The recent natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the humanitarian crisis that followed have weighed heavily on our hearts. As scholars who study issues of race, class, gender and inequality, we know that the extent of devastation felt by gulf coast communities is linked directly to social and economic structures.

Local, state, and federal governments failed to act to protect the safety and dignity of the tens of thousands of people left stranded in the gulf region. It is a human tragedy that so many of “the poor, the elderly, the sick, the young, most of them African Americans” were essentially abandoned in places like New Orleans, left to fend for themselves and try their best to survive. We recognize the ways in which racialized groups have historically been criminalized in our society and we are deeply saddened and angered by the media's repeated portrayals of African American victims of Hurricane Katrina as lawless and as looters. We are also outraged by the lack of aid, language-sensitive emergency information, and media attention given to other underrepresented communities that were also devastated along the gulf coast such as Vietnamese and Latino immigrant communities.

We call on the ethnic studies community to remain critical of the federal administration's response to the crisis and also of the media's portrayal of victims. Race, class and gender played a significant role in this catastrophe, an event that has brought to the public eye the stark socioeconomic inequalities that persist in our society. We hope that as recovery and rebuilding continue, we can also carry on open discussions on these issues as we strive for greater social justice in our world.


Below is a list of organizations with a strong record of working with underrepresented communities:

  • Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) 1-888-HLP-LEAN (457-5326)
  • LAST (Louisiana Advocacy Support Team) Relief
    (Assist foster and adoptive parents who have lost everything in the hurricane)
    Linda Christmas, 610B S. 16th Street, Monroe, LA 71202
    (318) 340-0230 or (888) 655-9564
  • The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond
    Send donations to: Peoples Institute NYC, P.O. Box 250809, New York, NY 10025.
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • People's Hurricane Fund/Community Labor United (Louisiana/Mississippi)
  • The Southern Relief Fund
    c/o The Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights
    PO Box 1223, Greenville, MS 38702
    (662) 334-1122
  • S.O.S - Saving Our Selves
    Att: Beni Ivey
  • Center for Democratic Renewal, PO Box 50469, Atlanta, GA 30302
    (404) 221-0025
    Alejandro Rosales
  • Oxfam regional organizer for the hurricane relief, with a focus on immigrants
    Biloxi, Mississippi
    (818) 434-6495 or
    E-mail: Emily Parry of OxFam,

Other Resources

New York Collective of Radical Educators. Unnatural Disaster: A Critical Resource Guide for Addressing the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Classroom.
To download a copy, please visit

The National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies has created a Katrina Relief Effort Forum ( that allows postings of topics in reference to Hurricane Katrina (e.g. Volunteer Services, Donations, Fundraising Events, etc.).

(posted on September 25, 2005)

Statement on Proposition 54

Ethnic Studies Statement on Proposition 54

The Department of Ethnic Studies focuses on the fundamental theoretical and political questions regarding the social construction of categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and nation. We have dedicated ourselves to studying these issues in a comparative, relational, and multidisciplinary fashion in order to critically analyze questions of power and social justice.

Proposition 54 will compromise three fundamental commitments that the U.C. system has made to the citizens of California:  1)  to provide information to the public in order to make possible evaluation of the University and its operation;  2)  to promote and guard the freedom of intellectual exchange governing all teaching and research activities performed by the University;  3)  and to achieve and maintain the highest standards of academic excellence.

Restriction of publicly available U.C. data

At present, the University of California must comply with a number of Federal affirmative action regulations in order to qualify for Federal grants, contract, and other financial programs.   The initiative exempts these data gathering and reporting requirements [Sec. 32 (i)], and this exemption would presumably allow the U.C. campuses to continue to develop and maintain a written affirmative action plan covering staff, faculty, and other academic employees.   U.C. campuses currently fulfill Federal reporting requirements by the collection of racial/ethnic statistics on employees and new appointees and may also be exempted under . To the extent that derivation of state level availability pool figures depends upon racial breakdowns of UC degree recipients, collection of these data might be allowable as well.   Finally, at present, participation in Federal financial aid programs obliges UC to assemble statistics on the racial composition of the enrolled student body.

However, Federal regulations do not mandate that the University collect information on the racial and ethnic composition of applicants and admittees, and  the gathering or reporting of this information is specifically prohibited in the initiative [Sec. 32 (a), (d), and (k)], unless specifically exempted by a 2/3 vote of both houses of the California legislature [Sec. 32 (b)].

In this regard, Proposition 54 seeks to prohibit the State of California from the voluntary collection of data on the race and ethnicity of its own citizens. As a public institution, UCSD has an obligation to ensure that all Californians have fair and equitable access to its campus and its benefits.  Forcing the University to cease to collect data on the race and ethnicity of applicants and admittees to U.C. campuses deprives the public of the information needed to assess fully the equitable operation of the mechanism that determines the makeup of the U.C. student body, a process that has already been affected by restrictions on the use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions brought by the passage of Proposition 209.  The prohibition against collection of such information would impede equally the enforcement of State anti-discrimination laws, and enforcement of State Proposition 209, which prohibits discrimination and preferential treatment on the basis of race and ethnicity in university admissions and all other aspects of University operations.

Compromise of academic freedom

Proposition 54 places the University of California in the position of making unavailable to the citizens of California, whose tax dollars provide a substantial share of it operating funds, information that would allow for the public evaluation of admissions policies and outcomes on the basis of race and ethnicity.  The issue of equitable access to the U.C. system though the admissions process has always been a matter of vigorous public debate, debate which has only increased as a result of the passage of Proposition 209.  As a matter of principle, the University of California should oppose any attempt to restrict or prohibit areas of research or the free exchange of intellectual ideas.

The language of  demonstrates its intent to restrict or prohibit certain kinds of research precisely in order to obscure the effect of common race/ethnicity-based practices and policies.  Section 32 (g) allows "law enforcement officers, while carrying out their law enforcement duties,” to describe “particular persons in otherwise lawful ways".  While permitting law enforcement to describe people by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin in the performance of their duty, the same clause effectively prohibits them or their employers [Sec. 32 (k)] from collecting data on this practice.  The initiative prohibits any state official or agency from requiring entities that use race, ethnicity, color, or national origin to classify individuals "to maintain records that track individuals on the basis of said classifications".  While specifically allowing classifications by race and ethnicity in practice, the initiative denies potential researchers access to data collected by law enforcement agencies that would allow them to assess public issues such as Police profiling on the basis of race and ethnicity.

Other exemptions in the initiative, such as that for "[o[therwise lawful classification of medical research subjects and patients" effectively establish within the University of California classifications of areas of knowledge subject to research into "legitimate" and "illegitimate" categories on the basis of whether they depend on data voluntarily collected by the state or its agencies that report information by race, ethnicity, or national origin.  In an e-mail message sent on 27 March 2002 to U.C. Academic Senate Chair Chand R. Viswanathan, U.C. Regent Ward Connerly explained that, [a]s one of the proponents of the initiative, I specifically wanted to ensure that legitimate areas of research could be conducted, assuming the passage of [Proposition 54 ]."   Since the passage of Proposition 54 would hamper any research that depended on current data based on "separating, sorting, or organizing by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin" [Sec. 32 (c)] collected, assembled, or contracted by the State of California, the effect of the initiative would be to make these areas of U.C. research "illegitimate".

Although Regent Connerly's communication of 27 March 2002 claimed that "research that takes place in the classroom or that is conducted by a member of the faculty is not subject to Proposition 54’s definition of ‘public education,’" which is in the operative clause (Section a) of Proposition 54 , we remain concerned that such assurances are not reflected in the actual language of the initiative.  In fact, the combination of Sec. 32 (a) "in the operation of public education" and (k) "'state' shall include …public university system, including the University of California", leaves open the interpretation that the initiative prohibits faculty, employees of the State of California, from "classifying", that is "separating, sorting or organizing by race ethnicity, color or national origin including, but not limited to, inquiring, profiling, or collecting data on government forms." [Sec. 32 (c)].

Regardless how individuals feel about the merit and relevance of any particular research produced by U.C. faculty members, researchers, or graduate students, the future of lines of academic inquiry and areas of legitimate research should not hinge on an eventual judicial interpretation of whether the meaning of the terms used in the initiative cover faculty duties as a part of their employment by the state.  We should oppose any policy that compromises this public educational institution's freedom to explore any and all avenues academic inquiry and areas of knowledge.

Elimination of Social Science perspectives from Public Policy arena

Over the last century, significant scholarship within the disciplines of Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, and History have developed around concerns for the way in which racial and ethnic processes have affected all dimensions of U.S. society and culture.  Studies that use precisely the kinds of data prohibited by Proposition 54 have figured crucially in most important legal decisions and public policies (e.g.  Brown v. Board of Education [1954], Welfare Reform [1996]). 

Research that uses the best available scientific data analysis to comprehend the structure and processes of America’s multiethnic/multiracial society is fatally threatened by the amendment to the California constitution embodied in Proposition 54.  Rather  than investigating in order to critically analyze questions concerning the distribution of power and aspiration for social justice, social science researchers are told by Proposition 54 that their work is unnecessary, that the important questions have been answered, and that all critical problems are already resolved.  The initiative, which purports to protect California citizens from arbitrary government classification by race, serves instead to use the power of the state to hide information that its citizens need in order to participate democratically and to advocate for equity and social justice in California and elsewhere.

(posted on February 1, 2003)