America, These Kids Need Ethnic Studies, Not Suspension.

Remember a little over a week ago, a few very shortsighted and foolish Pheonix High school students flashed their wordplay for the world to scorn. Their re-rendering of a 12th grade class yearbook picture made headlines across every social media platform to the ire of many. 

They were soundly punished with a five-day suspension and public flogging by the Internets. These minors had their faces lined up in smiling timelessness–like a group mugshot. Such a stupid act and so telling of a state policy gone wrong.

Ultimately, these kids did not need suspension. ‘

They need a fucking ethnic studies course.  

In fact, this whole damn state needs an ethnic studies course. O right, Arizona legislators passed HB 2281 a bill that made learning about non-white,especially Mexican American and African American, history illegal because–gasp–legislators feared that learning about non-white people and their struggles–would breed resentment of white people.

Arizona has suspended Ethnic Studies when they need it more than ever.

What these legislators fail to realize is that–big surprise, racist as shit like this breeds resentment–not ethnic studies courses. Arizona is soo lame for this and not new to its racially charged legislation like SB 1070 (2010), essentially legalizing racial profiling by allowing local authorities to detain those who they suspect are “illegally” residing in the US.

My teacher gag reflex is in full effect right now.

Yes, a group of kids who purport to represent the true spirit of that school, offered a counter-perspective touting that they were not represented by the outed ones, but the damage had been done.  The chickens are just coming to roost. Suspension won’t fix the PR debacle. Suspension will not fix their casual disregard for history and the weight of their usage of “NI**ER.”

I know one of the girls has publicly apologized for her stupidity. Forgive her of her transgressions. Every kid deserves a second chance, especially ones who make the dumbest more public ones.

What’s the takeaway? Racism is alive and well. Definitely. Social media is a bitch. Definitely.

But… there’s more!

I know it’s caught up in the courts right now, but Arizona, listen to me. Rescind HB2281. This is not the 18th century. Why are you censoring knowledge? What’s so scary about teaching the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 or the Delano Grape Boycott for the Chicanos?

The legacy of ethnic studies is embedded in traditional democratic ideals of rebellion–

San Francisco State University students striking for Ethnic Studes in 1968.

with one huge caveat, that being it was completely unarmed and led by students–not soldiers fighting their British colonial masters. The Third World Liberation Strike and the Free Speech Movement made us much cooler to be around.

Arizona, let’s be cool to be around.

Free Ethnic Studies Now.
I would tell these kids to Google Ethnic Studies while they complete their suspension; although, I think they’ve already served their time and are back at school as I write this.

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