The state of Arizona lies in the Colorado Plateau, bordering the US and Mexico. It was formerly within the territory of Mexico before the signing of a treaty, giving United States control. It has one of the largest populations of Indians in the nation and is inhabited by various ethnic groups (up to sixteen different groups). Its diversity in ethnicity attributes to the fact that Arizona was a relatively rich state, with many mineral deposits. This attracted people from various parts of the nation and the whole world leading to a mixture of races and ethnic groups coexisting in the same state. In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into a law that bans ethnic studies in Arizona into a law. This essay is instrumental in clarifying issues and bases its argument on facts as ethnicity is a matter of concern, not just at the level of state but also at the national level. The essay analyzes the ban of ethnic studies on a culture trying to study and appreciate their history.
In the 2010 census survey, the state of Arizona had a wide diversity in ethnicity in its population. According to the survey, 58% of the population consists of whites, 29% Latin, 5% American Indians, 4% blacks, 3% Asians and other smaller races together make up approximately 12%. Further, 13% of her population is foreign born. This brings a clear and obvious picture in mind. The state of Arizona is a union made from different groups. This also means that the people of Arizona, who are of different ethnic groups, have cultural diversity. Whereas it is true that unity is essential for the progress of a community, it is also true that to understand and accept the environment, it is necessary to start from a personal level. For understanding, a person needs to revisit the past, which will help find answers to your questions. The information presented in the ethnic studies is particularly relevant in helping the various ethnic groups understand their history and their journey through it. Understanding one’s roots builds self-esteem and opens doors for interaction with other people. Naturally, there is the need have a sense of belonging, and it is an unlikely for human behavior to have a desire to seek solitude. After all, no man is an island (Passel, Capps & Fix).
The ban on ethnic studies is a deliberate move to undermine the feeling of belonging. For a person to willingly join a course of action, there is a need to feel respected and accepted. Likewise, for the Arizona community to work together to bring prosperity to their region, they have to feel accepted. It is a common practice when people lose the sense of belonging if they feel unappreciated or disrespected. In such instances, the person has to ask him/herself if it is worth fighting for what they love and believe in. When the answer looks less appealing, they start looking in other directions. For the people of Arizona, the ban of ethnic studies is a sign of disrespect to the history and culture of the various ethnic groups. This is likely to have grave consequences with a peaceful coexistence becoming nothing more than a dream within the community. People without harmony do not live their lives to the fullest (Belle & Ward). The state of Arizona should be wise not to have a destination that will only cause harm.
The ban on ethnic studies also creates room for suspicion. However, why is Arizona the only state that bans ethnic studies? Further, what is the driving force behind the ban as there are no reports on any malign influence of ethnic studies within or beyond Arizona? Getting answers to such questions would amount to a curious suspicion. Furthermore, most students and teachers seem to throw their full weight behind the project. The teachers, for instance, think that ethnic studies help students develop a critical and open-minded thinking. The teachers also observed that students had studies that are more concerned with ethnic issues and appear to have be more interested in them. Lifting the ban on these studies will present a new era. Instead of taking a divisive approach, it should be understood that the studies would give the members of the different ethnic groups a chance to share in their history and be proud of their origin. This would give no room for feelings of hate and resentment would not have a place in the Arizona community. Hate is a weapon against progress; and lack of unity is a step backward in the journey towards democracy and speaking in one voice, a loss to the goal of nationalism. In order to move forward, the community of Arizona needs to put history on the sidelines and focus on a more lucrative course, a more appealing and worthwhile call. The community needs to embrace a call for unity. This starts with an individual being at peace. Nothing gives more inner peace than the sense of self-identity. After all, knowledge is power. This, however, is not to say that different ethnic groups should put the interests of their ethnic communities before those of the community in general.
The proponents of the law have supported the signing of the bill terming it the right step towards a united Arizona. Unity cannot be achieved by undermining and keeping the public from getting relevant information and facts right. Neither is it achieved by being oblivious of one’s past, origin and background. Every parent in his/her right mind would tell a child his history in order to inculcate a feeling of self-worth in the child. It matters little if history is devoid of drama or memorable events. As long as it is something that touches on the child’s past, the child would most likely appreciate it because, at the end of the day, everyone wants to find out something about their past, something that they can relate to.
Other proponents yet again have suggested that the studies are largely focused on one ethnic group, the Chicanos (Mexican Americans). The truth underlying this suggestion is debatable and remains unconfirmed. Despite the truth, it is likely that some people view the studies as a negative influence. Knowing extremely well that the Chicanos have had a fair share of trouble and misunderstandings with the state, they add fuel to the fire by making such a suggestion. This is highly unfortunate. The Chicanos have high population. However, this does not explain their use as a subject in ethnic studies. It would make little sense, on the other hand, to teach a class, consisting of say ninety percent of Indians the history of Africans. That would be weird as ethnic studies teach people their origin; therefore, it has a strong relation with the number of students attending the class. This could explain the fact that the Chicanos’ history is studied more widely than that of any other ethnic group. Ethnic studies should not be viewed as a tool to divide. It is simply a way of bringing up students with independence of mind and thought.
In conclusion, the law banning ethnic studies in the state of Arizona is backward and unnecessary. The argument of the proponents that the studies entertain ethnic alliances are simply baseless and not worth being taken into account. These studies impart valuable knowledge on social justice and history basing their facts and references on the history of Americans, of the people of Arizona and various ethnic communities. It is inappropriate that the representatives elected by the people would commit such a crime against democracy, by trying to prevent their electorate from finding out about their ancestors. It is clear that signing of the law was a deliberate effort to undermine the freedom of the whole community of Arizona. This further causes discontent, disharmony and lack of unity among the different ethnic groups of Arizona. Evidently, something is possible to prevent this from happening.