What is Ethnic Studies?

This question cannot be easily answered. We encourage you to become a member (see below) and learn alongside us. We can say Ethnic Studies is more than a curriculum. We view Ethnic Studies as community-led education reform where we re-imagine teaching and learning that is abolitionist, student-centered, and explicitly anti-racist.

Some things we know Ethnic Studies is not are diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, liberal multiculturalism, culturally responsive teaching (a la Zaretta Hammond), or easy to define.

Learning about and incorporating Ethnic Studies into your teaching practice is a life-long commitment, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help!

Why Ethnic Studies?
  • Ethnic Studies closes all achievement gaps between white students and students of color including, and not limited to, improved attendance and graduation rates at both high school and college levels (Dee & Penner, 2017; Sleeter, 2011; Sueyoshi & Sujitparapitay, 2020).
  • Educators who use ethnic studies curriculum and pedagogy can provide tools and strategies to students to dismantle oppressive systems, including Eurocentric curriculum and white-normed pedagogical practices (An, 2020; Bybee, 2020; del Carmen Salazar, 2018; Dominguez, 2017; Freire, 1968; Kim-Cragg, 2019; Ladson-Billings, 1998).
  • Ethnic Studies is a valuable tool for educators of color to demonstrate their cultural wealth and for all educators to connect to the cultural wealth of their students (Kokka, 2016; Ladson-Billings, 1998; Magaldi et al., 2018; Sacramento, 2019).
  • Educators of color view Ethnic Studies as life-giving and revitalizing, reminding them why they entered the profession to begin with (Fernández, 2019; Kohli, 2019; Sacramento, 2019). This may help inform retention efforts for educators of color (Castro-Gill, 2022).
  • Ethnic Studies centers specifically on racial justice, which includes the intersections of all other forms of justice, including economic justice, disability justice, gender justice, etc. (Crenshaw, 1989; Dee & Penner, 2017; Sleeter, 2011).
  • Teaching ethnic studies curriculum, for which educators of color are uniquely positioned as people of color, may play a role in mitigating racism that educators of color experience in the workplace (Castro-Gill, 2022).
  • Ethnic Studies exposes and names the harm of whiteness on all people, including the ways in which colonization of thought and knowledge are perpetuated in education (Kim-Cragg, 2019; San Pedro, 2018).
  • Ethnic Studies focuses on indigenous epistemologies that rehumanize teaching and learning and are inherently relational (Calderón & Urrieta, 2019; Kulago et al., 2021; Pulido, 2018; Sosa-Provencio et al., 2020).
  • The focus on indigenous epistemologies makes Ethnic Studies a healing practice for both students and educators (Calderón & Urrieta, 2019; Cuevas, 2016; Haynes et al., 2020; Pulido, 2018; Sosa-Provencio et al., 2020).
  • Ethnic Studies was conceptualized and fought for by Black, Asian, and Chicanx/Latinx people in the 1960s (Dawson et al., 2016). Continuing an authentic, anti-racist Ethnic Studies program centered on decolonial epistemologies honors and affirms their resistance and brilliance.

For a shareable pdf of these reasons that includes a list of works cited, click here.

What does it mean to be a member of WAESN?

Members of WAESN define their own membership experience. Members are some of the first people that learn about professional development and networking opportunities we host.

Members are invited to our monthly board meetings, and we always welcome new ideas and opportunities brought to us by our members. Membership can be as easy as keeping up to date on our initiatives and political activities. You decide what you want to make of your membership.

How do I get involved with WAESN?

Get on our mailing list! Some opportunities are available only to WAESN members and invitations are sent by email. Following us on social media is a great way to keep up with news and resources, but getting on the mailing list gives you access to all the benefits of being a member.

To join our mailing list, subscribe to our blog below.

You can also become a member by donating at any level using the donation link below.

Does WAESN provide professional consulting services with non-education organizations?

Yes! Our mission is ethnic studies in every WA State public school, but we want ethnic studies and anti-racism everywhere! We have worked with church groups, youth groups, and parent groups. If we don’t have the expertise to meet your needs, we likely know someone who does.

What are your consultation fees?

The answer to this question varies depending on the type of service you’re looking for and the type and size of your organization. You can find some general guidelines on our services and pricing guide that you can download from our Contracting page.

Do WAESN directors do keynotes and panel discussions?

Yes! Our board of directors, executive director, and advisory board are all available for keynotes and panel discussions. Please contact us if you’re interested to learn more.

If you appreciate our work, please consider subscribing to our organization. You will become an official member of WAESN and receive invitations to our monthly board meetings.

You can also support us financially. Please consider making a donation below.

Thank you for your support.