The Harvard Ethnic Studies Coalition is an organization representing Harvard students and alumni dedicated to establishing Ethnic Studies at Harvard.
Harvard does not have a dedicated space for conversations about race and ethnicity. As Becina J. Ganther ’20, a Crimson editorial editor, writes in her work “Becoming,” “The world needs more stories, more experiences, more perspectives. That’s how we learn about ourselves and, equally importantly, those around us. And that’s also how we learn about the ways that oppressive structures such as racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia advantage certain people over others.”
Ethnic Studies is the critical examination of power and privilege necessary for understanding the complex racial landscape of communities in the U.S. and the implications of that racial landscape on the rest of the world. Professor Gary Y. Okihiro, founding director of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, confirms that “Ethnic Studies is not identity politics, multiculturalism, or an intellectual form of promoting affirmative action for people of color,” a conflation which “trivialize[s] the political claims of the discipline, reducing the analysis of power relations and their interventions.” Particularly in our current political climate, understandings of the oppressive structures which brought us to this moment are critical in the classroom and beyond.
Too long have student action and voices been ignored. The need for thoughtful conversation about race and ethnicity is greater now than it has ever been before. This is a moment for change. In a political climate that encourages ignorance and bigotry, the choice to take ownership over your education is revolutionary, whether by formally pursuing and advocating for Ethnic Studies, taking classes by your excellent faculty of color, attending student-led teach-ins, or hosting educational/political events with your cultural organizations.
The Harvard Ethnic Studies Coalition will advocate for a robust and interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies program at Harvard, with the goal of upholding that lofty promise of continuing these crucial conversations in our communities and beyond.