Bagora: Schools Need to Teach about All Minorities

By: Esha Bagora

Public Relations Manager

Growing up in a predominantly White community, I never learned about people who looked like me or fought for people like me. My historical education was primarily focused on the White history of the United States, and even at a young age, I often felt that I wasn’t able to learn about the whole picture. Now, schools across the country are being forced to remove the already minimal people of color (POC) American history from their curriculums. State school boards in Florida, Georgia, Utah, and Alabama have barred conversations about race in the classroom. Eight states — Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and North Dakota — have legislation that prevents students from learning about POC history. 

During this time, we need to recognize rather than remove these topics from school; we need to add more to the minute amount we have. We need to learn about all minorities and their experiences in the United States, as opposed to removing them and their history from our schools. 

The most I have learned about Asian-American history in school, which makes up six point two percent of the nation, has been about the incarceration of Japanese people in California during World War II. I have yet to come across a history textbook that covers the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, or the grotesque mistreatment of Asian-Americans during the Gold Rush. The People v. Hall case, the ‘Coolie’ trade ban, the Bellingham Riots, or the Alien Land Act, are all events that have been excluded from my education. This lack of knowledge about the mistreatment of Asian Americans allows the country to shrug off its responsibility to make amends. If no one knows about it, nothing can be done to fix it. In March 2021, California adopted the state’s first ethnic studies education mandate through the AB 101 bill, which broaches Asian-American history. But, schools are not required to use the curriculum until the class of 2030 enters high school, which leaves it up to school administrators to choose whether or not we can learn about our own histories. As of right now, Los Gatos High School only offers a semester-long ethnic studies course for freshmen.  

In addition to the lack of Asian-American representation in history, Hispanic people are severely underrepresented in our history. In California, where Hispanics make up 39.4 percent of the population, we barely learn about them. Mendez V. Westminster, Longoria Affairs, Delano Grape strikes, Zoot Suit riots, and Prop 187 have caused waves in American history, but they are largely unknown among Californian students. Beyond college history programs and AB 101, there are few opportunities for Hispanic historical education. 

All in all, American history needs to reflect the growing and changing population. We need schools to offer options to educate us about the people we are, and those who surround us. Los Gatos High, along with other high schools, needs to begin implementing such studies on a larger scale. Offering more classes for more grades of the ethnic studies curriculum passed in 2021 would be a lovely place to start. 

(Sources: NBC News, Time, San Diego Tribune, History)

Categories: Opinion, Web Exclusive

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