THE YALE HERALD
FROM THE EDITORS Dear Reader, We write to you in the midst of Bulldog Days, when prefrosh and parents wander our campus. For three days, Yale seeks to welcome those high school seniors who have decided or are deciding whether to enter the University. This issue of the Yale Herald is a takeover by the Coalition for Ethnic Studies and Faculty Diversity. On Mar. 19, all 13 tenured faculty in the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration (ER&M) major—including those in leadership roles— withdrew their labor from the program. They join the group of 41 faculty members who have already departed. Their withdrawal is a response to the administration’s refusal to respect their work and grant the program departmental status. We stand with their refusal to exploited by the University any longer. Our professors deserve to be dignified by being given a manageable workload, and the ability to protect and maintains scholars in the field of study. We want to share the ways in which ER&M has become central to our lives here at Yale. Even if it is not our major—although for many of us, it is—we came to Yale in part because of it. However, it is now apparent that Yale has failed to value its affiliated faculty, support its programming, and protect its students. As a result, we demand institutional recognition of these shortcomings. In this issue, we hope to highlight the scope and value of ER&M, which the administration emptily claims to recognize. Gabriella Blatt, ES ’21, writes about Yale’s lackluster Native Studies curriculum dependent on a single tenured professor, while Maslen Ward, ES ’20, argues for why white students need Ethnic Studies. Elsewhere, find roundtable conversations on the relationship between STEM and ER&M, and on the past and present of Ethnic Studies as a discipline. Flip to the back of the issue to find a crowdsourced list of music, books, and movies for your education and enjoyment. Nearly every significant institutional change to better include students of color at Yale, and recognize the importance of ethnic studies, has come after student organizing and protest—from letters penned to then-President Kingman Brewster in the ’70s, to thousand-person marches and teach-ins in 2015. We see our work as a continuation of this legacy, and we know the importance of our voices. Without them, the University may never act. In this issue, the center spread contains a 50-year timeline of student organizing around topics like Ethnic Studies and resources for students of color. We hope that within the pages of this issue, at an ER&M event during Bulldog Days, or even during a late-night conversation in a college buttery, you can engage with the ideas grounding our campaign: that Ethnic Studies has value, that it is an essential part of any world-class university, and is necessary to make sense of our world. We imagine a Yale in which we are able to study Ethnic Studies without wondering how long our mentors will remain here. We imagine studying what we desire with the complete support of the University. We imagine a future where our professors are recognized for the transformative scholarship they have offered the world—where their labor is valued and their time respected. More than anything, we want Yale to be a place where everyone feels welcome. We agitate for inclusion. We agitate for love. By enrolling at Yale, all students are buying into in an institutional value system that perpetuates and enables marginalization and erasure, whether we like it or not. We ask that you join us in combating the status quo and holding this institution accountable. Onwards. Signed, Eliot Wailoo, Ananya Kumar-Banerjee, and Irene Vázquez
The Yale Herald is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, incorporated student publication registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office. If you wish to subscribe to the Herald, please contact the Editor-in-Chief at email@example.com. Receive the Herald for one semester for 40 dollars, or for the 2019 academic year for 65 dollars. The Yale Herald is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Yale Herald, Inc. or Yale University. Copyright 2019 The Yale Herald. Have a nice day.
VISIT US ONLINE AT YALEHERALD.COM
Masthead EDITORIAL STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MANAGING EDITORS
Fiona Drenttel Marina Albanese Chalay Chalermkraivuth
FEATURES EDITORS CULTURE EDITORS VOICES EDITORS OPINION EDITOR REVIEWS EDITORS INSERTS EDITORS
Joe Abramson, Jordan Powell Laurie Roark, Helen Teegan Hamzah Jhaveri, Mariah Kreutter Spencer Hagaman Kat Corfman, Everest Fang, Douglas Hagemeister Sarah Force, Addee Kim
DESIGN STAFF CREATIVE DIRECTOR DESIGN EDITORS
Julia Hedges Paige Davis, Molly Ono
WITH SPECIAL HELP FROM Grace Ambrossi, Lakshmi Amin, Gabriella Blatt, Stephen Early, Christian Fernandez, Elijah Hong, Ananya Kumar-Banerjee, Kellyn Kusyk, Hannah J. Lee, Julia Ma, Branson Rideaux, Seyade Tadele, Elliot Wailoo, Betty Wang, Irene Vázquez, and the rest of the Coalition.
IN THIS ISSUE 4, 5
Irene Vazquez, BK ’21, inaugurates the issue and summons a new world. From her senior thesis show: Isis DavisMarks, JE ’19, paints herself and her aunt Pamela.
Using research done by students in Professor Quan Tran’s Fall 2018 seminar, Comparative Ethnic Studies, members of the Coalition assembled a timeline of the past 50 years of organizing and advocacy for students of color at Yale.
Ananya Kumar-Banerjee, BK ’21, meditates on the AASA roundtable discussion in poetic form, thinking through genealogies of activism and love as liberation.
In conversation, Stephen Early, BK ’20, Stephanie Blas-Lizarazo, MC ’20, Ellie Shang, SM ’20, Kenia Hale, SM ’21, and Lane To, MY ’19, reflect on how ER&M courses have been an essential complement to their STEM-focused degrees.
Daniel Yadin, MC ’21, Mary Miller, TC ’20, Grace Wynter, DC ’20, and Sonia Gadre, SY, ’20 respond to injustice with humor and wit.
Browse a list of crowdsourced favorite songs, texts, and films, that will serve to decolonize your mind.
Branson Rideaux, ES ’20, considers the ways the ER&M program is explicitly and implicitly denied dignity.
Five writers—Gianna Baez, TC ’21, Kelsang Dolma, PC ’19, Carolyn Sacco, ES ’21, Sarah Ngo, DC ’20, and Kellyn Kusyk, SM ’20—take us through their personal experiences in ER&M.
Think through the history of Native Studies and its importance to academia with Mikki Metteba, BR ’22, and Nolan Arkansas, TC ’22.
Pick up a marker and fill in a coloring page dedicated to the Ethnic Studies program by Lakshmi Amin, BR ’21.
Week Ahead POP-UP MUSEUM MONDAY, APR. 15, 1:30 P.M. ONWARDS OLD CAMPUS
Maslen Ward, ES ’20, reflects on how ER&M has shaped her perspective as a white person.
Professors Daniel HoSang, Inderpal Grewal, Gary Okihiro, and Quan Tran, and students Emily Almendarez, SM ’20, Gabriella Blatt, ES ’21, Yuni Chang, MC ’18, and Janis Jin, GH ’20, partake in a roundtable discussion on the state of Ethnic Studies.
PANEL OF ER&M FACULTY TUESDAY, APR. 16, 12:30 - 1:30 P.M. SHEFFIELD-STERLING-STRATHCONA HALL, 1 PROSPECT STREET
Gabriella Blatt, ES ’21, discusses the anxieties and anger she feels as a student of Native Studies, which suffers from a dearth of allocated resources.
“JAPANESE MIGRATION & SETTLEMENT NEAR THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDERLANDS” TEACH-IN TUESDAY, APR. 16, 12:30 P.M. CROSS CAMPUS
Ananya Kumar-Banerjee, BK ’21, remembers her mother and finds liberation through Ethnic Studies.
MEET STUDENTS OF COLOR AND ER&M MAJORS MONDAY, APR. 15, 10 P.M. - 1 A.M. RESIDENTIAL COLLEGE BUTTERIES
TURN OUT FOR THE TURN UP! PARTY TUESDAY, APR. 16, 5:30 P.M. CROSS CAMPUS
Invocation // Liner Notes for a New World IRENE VÁZQUEZ, BK ’21
Kamau told me in a poem once, that there is an infinity between two fixed points. Maybe between my hands, and your hands, we’ll get someplace better. So much becomes possible when we are gathered. So much blooms from the lands where our grandmothers taught us how to love. Here, could you help me hold my anger for just a minute? The pain has amassed in my back for so long; I haven’t been sleeping nights. Is it the bed or the broken promises? As long as you tell me you’ll love me tomorrow, I know I can keep going.
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May we start and end every poem remembering how much there is left to be done, and may each poem free us from the discipline of worry. May we not chide our bodies for keeping us alive. May the coffee be just strong enough to restore us each morning. May we slow down long enough to leave the pain of this world behind. Jettison cargo. So much exists beyond the horrors of sight. After all these years, I am still grateful for the miracle of flight. long enough to leave the pain of this world behind.
I sing myself
Isis Davis Marks, JE â€™19, is a senior art major. Incorporating flowers and objects, her work is primarily portraiture based on family and friends, histories of migration, gentrification, educational legacies, and diasporic identity.
STEM x ER&M STEPHEN EARLY, BK ’20, STEPHANIE BLAS-LIZARAZO, MC ’20, ELLIE SHANG, SM ’20, KENIA HALE, SM ’21, LANE TO, MY ’19
R&M’s importance reaches far beyond “Ethnic Studies” or even the humanities. The program and discipline provide us with ways of thinking that are directly applicable to STEM fields. Many students at Yale feel strongly about the role of Ethnic Studies within STEM. A few of them sat down for a roundtable discussion about the importance of ER&M within their fields of study.
Studies is something that comes naturally to People of Color or is something that’s very easy for them to do, so it’s devalued because it’s not seen as a real academic discipline.
process and the amount of work [the faculty] are putting in––those things aren’t necessarily being put on the record for their evaluations. And [as for] subject matter, I’ve used it in how I think about solutions in interrelated systems, and it’s made me more intelligent in how I look at problems because I’ve learned to ask questions of, or feel sus about, technocratic solutions that people bring to the table without necessarily knowing the people who they’re affecting.
Kenia Hale: [When I came to Yale] I was so excited to finally learn. Because I had taken frickin’ AP World [History], but that doesn’t teach you the stuff that ER&M teaches. And so when I Stephen Early: Firstly, what were some percep- came here—to answer your question—I thought tions or associations you had with ER&M at Yale ER&M was so established! I took Intro to ER&M and all of the recent news involving Ethnic Studies and my initial perception was “Oh my god, I’m fi- KH: Absolutely. So I’m currently in a class called at Yale? nally learning the stuff that I have been wanting Race, Gender and Surveillance. I originally came to learn.” into Yale as a Computer Science (CS) major, so that SE: You come across people who have the mindset was very much applicable. I ended up switching out that ER&M is not hard. They only value quantita- SE: Yeah that’s true [for me] too. I didn’t realize of CS because I found there to be this culture of, tive and “hard” majors. I can think of a few people until very recently how unstable ER&M was in the “Oh let’s just go get these internships with these rein Mechanical Engineering (MechE) specifically eyes of the administration. ally big corporations without worrying about what who I’ve had conversations with or tried to explain they’re actually doing.” I saw this article about Ameverything that’s been happening to, and they think Ellie Shang: I think it’s something that the admin- azon making facial recognition software for ICE... Yale should put its money into STEM because “we istration likes to talk up or advertise, without actuactually create things” and ER&M just “looks at ally backing it up in terms of real support or fund- LT: Amazon was also trying to take over things.” There are a lot of people who have been ing. But Yale will still take [credit for] any work Queens…so… groomed with the mindset that STEM is the most that ER&M is doing as its own. valuable thing and that creating a solution is more KH: Exactly, Amazon is awful right? But I have important than understanding all the contexts be- SE: For people who have taken a course or just so many friends who were so gung-ho about gohind it. been around the ER&M department, what were ing into all of these corporations without thinkyour greatest takeaways as a STEM major? ing about anything like that. So that’s why I Lane To: I feel like there’s this perception that switched to Computing and the Arts just to get studying ER&M is easy for People of Color. Like, SE: For example, I took Intro to Latinx Studies, a different focus….I tried to get Race, Gender, “Oh you’re taking an Asian American history and one of my biggest takeaways was the relation- and Surveillance to count [towards my major] class, that must be so easy.” But it’s a very emo- ship of the faculty to the students. It’s way more because this should count as a CS class; you’re tionally draining thing to be studying all these caring than anything I had seen in my STEM learning about how CS interacts with people as histories of the oppression of your own people. classes. I think that’s also something that should opposed to learning algorithms, but they said And there’s definitely a perception that Ethnic be considered when we’re talking about the tenure no. I think ER&M adds something that so
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7 many of these STEM majors just don’t have. SE: In your specific fields, how do you see Ethnic Studies being important? ES: I think a lot of STEM students are looking to create things and build things and look for solutions to problems, but how are you going to design an effective solution to a problem that you don’t have a full understanding of? How are you even going to know what to address if you don’t have that historical or cultural understanding of how things are affecting people and how your ideas are being influenced by other factors?
plore how technology could play a role in solving those types of problems. Again, the reason why I personally wanted to do ER&M is to have a better understanding of the different cultural, social, political dynamics that come to play for problems of infrastructure and technology.
SE: I think mainly we have to ask a lot more questions. After the classes that I have taken, I’ve thought a lot more about designing solutions with socio-cultural relationships in mind. Designing solutions with that in mind takes a lot more time to be effective. I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve gained by slowly immersing myself in ER&M.
KH: I took this really cool class called Sickness and Health in African American History last semester, and I think it did a good job of challenging the notion that anything can be strictly objective. Normally you hear “STEM” and you think that’s just facts and figures. But the medical history of African American people in the U.S., for example, involved so much forced experimentation; enslaved people were often used for medical experiments. Who has access to the technology that we create, and who is that technology affecting? We don’t know. I have friends who are MechE who are going to work at Shell, and I’m like….Shell? The earth is burning, what are you doing? I don’t think anything [any science you do] can be objective.
Stephanie Blas-Lizarazo: My ultimate pipe dream career goal is to create prosthetics that are mass-producible. My parents are from Nicaragua and Venezuela originally, and both of those countries are currently in big socioeconomic political crises. I feel like those [two communities] have been and probably will continue to be overlooked in terms of healthcare, in terms of infrastructure, and things like that. Having that understanding of [the socio-economic context] you could ex-
LT: One of the ER&M classes I took was Intro to Third World Studies, and that class really taught me that objectivity is fake. Everyone takes science as fact, but one of the lessons we covered in class was the racist history of science: how doctors experimented on Black people without their consent or knowledge, how environmental conservation and forestry originated as a settler-colonial technique to take over lands from Indigenous people, stuff like that. We all know
about scientific racism and phrenology. Science has been used in a lot of ways in the past to justify racism and inequality, and the reality of that has taught me that science can’t always be taken as fact. You can’t trust science any more than you can trust any other academic field. A lot of what we think is objective fact is shaped by existing prejudices. Without taking an ER&M class, I would’ve never known so much about that side of science. Now when I do science, I think more about how to avoid falling into that pattern of scientists exploiting people or ignoring the needs of marginalized groups. For the sake of technology and progress, people will often overlook the importance of culture and tradition, and steamroll over Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. I try to be extra conscious of that in the science that I’m studying; if I had never taken an ER&M class I just wouldn’t really have that perspective and wouldn’t be actively thinking about things like that. My senior project is about traditional incense in East and Southeast Asia and how to evaluate and mitigate its effects as an indoor air pollutant. I’m focusing on thinking more about how to make science work with tradition and different [non-Western] cultures. That’s not necessarily a perspective that most people who study science have, and I wouldn’t have thought of all that if I hadn’t been taking ER&M classes.
“A lot of STEM students are looking to create things and build things and look for solutions to problems, but how are you going to design an effective solution to a problem that you don’t have a full understanding of?”
Undignified BRANSON RIDEAUX, ES ’20 Dignity: (noun) The state or quality of being worthy of honor I ran out of class and felt a combination of fear, interest, and or respect. overwhelming danger—I had a stake in this now. History was rushing at me, closing the distance. I could run from it, think it’s confusing, for most people, when I say or confront it. that Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, in its current state at Yale University, is not a dignified field. Many of us have a personal stake in Ethnic Studies. In my This is Yale University after all: any major that we put on class year, every student in the African American Studies our diploma will bear the name of this prestigious place. major is Black. But personal stake should not be used as That is the purpose of a liberal arts education, the freedom a means of delegitimizing the study. It is easy to mistake of interdisciplinary study paired with the respect and dig- our passion for self-absorption, when it is really the rignity of a rigorous academic institution. Yet in my major, orous study of the material that charges our energy. Our African American Studies, most of us are double majors. I fields have been tasked with discovering history that has don’t think this is because the major is easy; we have a year- been unseen and suppressed for centuries. African Amerlong thesis, just like many other humanities departments. ican history is a history that has been and is currently beBut I personally believe this phenomenon arises because ing erased, and that historians are, today, re-constructing. the field of Ethnic Studies—which encompasses African They are recovering the names and biographies of slaves, American Studies, Asian American Studies, Latinx stud- making sense of sexual violence during Reconstruction, ies, and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration—is not dignified and discovering the economic effects of the managerial at this school, in professional settings, and in most places economy on Black communities today. I am fortunate across the country. that, when I feel that my field is being misunderstood and delegitimized, or when the amount of trauma I am exI think that I must first distinguish that dignity at the in- posed to in class becomes overpowering, I can take comstitution manifests both explicitly and implicitly. Explicitly, fort in the incredible group of scholars in my field doing the amount of resources we dedicate to certain fields and valuable and respected work. the facilities they are able to inhabit demonstrate the priority placed on them by the University. Yet, there is also Crystal Feimster, the professor who showed our class The implicit, coded language beneath this dignity. We tend to Rape of Recy Taylor, announced the following semester that not take the field of Ethnic Studies seriously because we do she had finally received tenure. She came into our class, not respect the history and people it talks about. To most Critical Race Theory, where she found flowers and desserts people, Ethnic Studies appears to be self-explorative. The to honor her accomplishment. I remember her recountstudents and professors are exploring a history that “must ing the difficulty she had, as one of the few Black female be interesting” but isn’t particularly important. I believe professors on campus, in navigating Yale’s nearly impospeople suppose that its appeal is a “contemporary one,” val- sible tenure process—a process that took her almost two ued by those with the “right identity” to study it. decades. Just recently, I listened to many of the core professors of ER&M lament the loss of their colleagues who That’s not entirely untrue: many students, like myself, have were reviewed by panels of almost all-white professors, and found that these histories are very close to us, often too denied tenure. close for comfort. In fact, I remember the first time that an African American Studies course brought me to tears. I was forced to reckon with a very serious academic distinction. African American studies is a department; EthAfAm 125: The Long Civil Rights Movement, Prof. Crystal nicity, Race, and Migration is not. It is far more difficult Feimster for professors who have dedicated a bulk of their work to a program such as ER&M to achieve tenure. Departmental A In lecture status allows for a field to have full hiring power, review Documentary on Front Row their professors for tenure, and create coursework that is Recy Taylor I was sitting distinct and supportive of the different interests of its students. On the other hand, when the field is a program, the She appeared on screen University forces professors to be dual-appointed in the And god, I swear she looked like my Grandmother program as well as in a more “dignified” department. The work they do in the program is unpaid, extra work. In Ethnic Studies, this distinction is exacerbated: most professors My Grandma In lecture in the field are Professors of Color, whose place at the UniRecy Taylor Front Row versity is already one of stress and alienation. What this raped I was sitting crying until the movie ended dual appointment most commonly results in is professors
8 THE YALE HERALD
of color doing twice the amount of labor, and not receiving the proportionate amount of recognition or compensation. Yet, aside from the tangible effects of departmental status, we must again consider the subtextual. This action, or rather inaction, embodies a decision by Yale to dignify the field of study; to respect and give honor to the material. I will not argue that ER&M is important, or that its study is, without a doubt, worthy of distinction. But when we refuse to grant ER&M departmental status, the Yale administration is refusing to address a serious situation. The professors of color on campus are not being respected, they are being overworked. The students of color on campus are not being respected, they are being overlooked. The histories of people of color are not being academically dignified, they are being suppressed. And, if we are not careful, the histories will be erased. As an African American Studies student, I am invested in keeping this history and field of study dignified. As a campus that upholds the dignity of each other and our passions, this should be a concern for all of us.
IIllustration by Hannah J Lee
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9 The Importance of Native Studies MIKKI METTEBA, BR ’22, AND NOLAN ARKANSAS, TC ’22
ative Studies contextualizes rigorous, interdisciplinary studies of diaspora, race, gender, class, sexuality, politics, and settler colonialism. Often ignored in the wider scope of academia, and even within Ethnic Studies, Native Studies provides critical insight to these fields with a focus in settler-colonialism. The term “settler-colonialism” describes the ongoing process of non-Native settlers occupying Native land, demanding their world views, morals, and economies be followed, while attempting to erase and assimilate the original inhabitants—for example, European colonization in the Americas. Native Studies explores the difficult realities we live today and envision a globally humane future of tomorrow. Early anthropological accounts misrepresented Indigenous populations and cultures and later served to further distort western society’s misconceptions of Native people. These anthropologists viewed Native cultures, knowledges, and people not only as primitive and inferior to those of European society, but also as going extinct. The western gaze of anthropology persists in both academia and today’s common ideologies, creating these inaccurate and racist extinction narratives, wherein Natives, characterized by “dying” cultures and “vanishing” languages, are subject to ultimate disappearance. As colonial power formed the United States, military general Richard Henry Pratt, whose papers are viewable at the Beinecke, spearheaded Indigenous assimilation and cultural genocide through boarding schools. Boarding schools were intended, as Pratt famously said, “[To] kill the Indian… and save the man.” Children were often forcibly taken from their homes and plunged into unfamiliar “educational” environments where they were forbidden from speaking their Native languages. Boarding schools often confined Indigenous students to vocations, such as farming and carpentry, rather than academia so that they “successfully” assimilated into the American workforce as second-class citizens. Native students were actively excluded from the academy and thus unable to articulate their own visions and histories. In the eyes of colonizers, Native people had absolutely no place in U.S. modernity. Native people stood in the way of progress. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement of the ’60s and ’70s, Indigenous people throughout the U.S. and Canada began organizing their reservation and urban communities in a larger effort to dismantle colonial and anthropological nar-
ratives, reclaim their previous ways of being, and envision futures together. The Red Power Movement, an Indigenous political movement active across the U.S. and Canada, directly challenged academia through anti-colonial history lessons for youth, political escalations, and infiltrations of the academy. Red Power organizers and thinkers laid the foundation for Native Studies as we know it today.
Meanwhile, the one-drop rule worked to create more slaves for the American system, in that anyone with black ancestry was considered “Black,” and therefore a slave. These constructions of race are pervasive. They inform our prejudices, biases, and laws to this day. The unfortunate truth is that so long as Native Studies remains marginalized, we can not properly engage with the real histories and fallacies of race.
Native students were actively excluded from the academy and thus unable to articulate their own visions and histories. In the eyes of colonizers, Native people had absolutely no place in modernity.
Native Studies also works to contextualize modern sexualities. Scott L. Morgensen notes in his book, Spaces Between Us, that as white settlers used sexual violence and gender binaries to police Native communities, many non-binary and gay Natives were forced to conform to a society that rewarded heterosexuality and a gendered binary. This attempt to disrupt Native genders and sexualities even influenced white settlers themselves. As Natives were pushed into default straightness, whites who witnessed this process took it upon themselves to maintain and perpetuate both the gender binary and heterosexual norm. Thus Native Studies again prove their own importance. Without understanding this construction of western gender and sexuality, queer studies, gender studies, and scholarship that engages with patriarchy, such as feminism, are sorely lacking context.
Engaging with Native Studies informs us about the constructions and realities of race, history, sexuality, family, government, and more. In perhaps one of the most-cited essays in Native Studies today, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Patrick Wolfe discusses how early settler societies were formed primarily by disenfranchising Native peoples and enslaving Africans. In order to control Black, brown, and Indigenous bodies, European colonizers constructed a new rigid class and social hierarchy based on race. More Natives meant less access to land, but more Africans meant more access to slaves. White settlers created blood quantum for Natives and the one-drop rule for Blacks in order to manage race. Blood quantum, the quantification of Native “blood,” uses numerical logic to “dilute” Indigeneity. Coupled with eugenic policies, such as the forced sterilization of Native women and kidnapping of Native children from their families, blood quantum made it easier for whites to lay claims to land.
Native Studies today continue to contextualize, critique, and remedy the worlds and studies from which we have been excluded. With knowledge of our own Native lifeways, and with knowledge of how these have been policed and exiled, we carry with us the same values that civil rights academics and organizers once envisioned. Native Studies work to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities throughout the world aim to develop transnational alliances with each other in the face of heightened surveillance, climate destruction, sexual violence, and global capitalism. Ethnic Studies provides Native people with an avenue to challenge settler-colonialism in the larger push to liberate racialized and gendered communities. Today’s Native Studies is vital to Ethnic Studies as it challenges colonial narratives, reclaims subjectivities, and envisions an inclusive, informed, and collective future for us all.
Why White Students Need ER&M MASLEN WARD, ES ’20
s a white student, when I tell people I am an ER&M major, I usually get either a puzzled look or a slightly too enthusiastic, “that’s SO cool.” There is a common misconception that Ethnic Studies has nothing to do with white students. But although ER&M does not center white voices, it has a lot to do with white people and whiteness. Ethnic Studies critically examines the institutions and social constructions upheld by white people in order to maintain power. All white people have internalized racism and are complicit in racist structures. As a white student at Yale, I am actively benefiting from a racist institution that was created for the purpose of educating white students like myself and maintaining a class of white elite. Instead of attempting to ignore our complicity or asking our peers of color to teach us, white students should seek out Ethnic Studies and self-educate. I understand that as a white student it can be uncomfortable to be in a space that does not center whiteness. It can be uncomfortable to feel like I am taking up space in a department that is a refuge for many students of color at Yale—and will never mean the same thing to me. Outside of the ER&M department, I have the privilege not to think about my positionality or to be deliberate in how I contribute to a classroom.
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You know that saying, “How can you love someone else before you learn to love yourself?” Well, how can you expect to critique authors, philosophers, or artists if you don’t first learn how to critique yourself, your internalized beliefs, and the way you have been socialized to evaluate the world? Yale prides itself on teaching its students not “what to think,” but “how to think.” Without ER&M, I’m not quite sure how Yale expected me to learn “how to think.” It is only in my ER&M classes that my peers and professors have challenged me to question my internalized values, to examwine the systems in which I participate, and then to think critically about the intersection of theory and practice in my everyday life. Coming into Yale, I probably thought I could give you a fairly accurate and succinct definition of intersectionality. It wasn’t until I took Black Feminist Theory with Professor Aimee Cox that I began to question how my “feminism”—a set of values that I have intentionally and proudly cultivated—can, in fact, reinforce other oppressive structures. I had assumed, for instance, that the criminal justice system was the best way to seek recourse for sexual assault survivors when in fact it can be deeply traumatizing for Black women in a way that it is not for white women. In that course, I came to learn about the origins, history,
and context of the term intersectionality when it was first coined by Black Feminist scholars in an attempt to describe the specific types of violence they faced as Black women. It wasn’t until I took classes like this one that I learned not only important theoretical groundwork for so much other theory and literature, but also how to reflect on what I believe and why I believe it—and, ultimately, to transform the reflection into action.
Without ER&M, I’m not quite sure how Yale expected me to learn “how to think.”
11 Imagining Power and Liberation Studies with My Mother ANANYA KUMAR-BANERJEE, BK ’21, YH STAFF
y own mother is an anomaly, by most accounts. She is eccentric, highly unstable, her moods mercury. I try not to blame her when I call her and she ends the phone call midway through my regular invocation of I love yous. She is spiteful, sometimes, and it hurts. She is smart.
My mother is an artist. Growing up, the bookshelves in our houses—first in Pennsylvania, and then in New York City, where we still live today—were cluttered with multisyllabic words. At seven, I was deeply confused by the thicket of anthropological texts stacked high in her studio and commensurate Nina Simone and Norah Jones songs playing on the radio. Her work focuses on themes like tourism and femininity, and is based heavily on postcolonial theory. It often draws from her experience as someone who traces her lineage from what is now the border between Bangladesh and India, whose mother experienced the trauma of war. She has spent her life trying to piece together what it means for her to have moved from Calcutta, to Manchester, to Queens. At the time, I didn’t understand her, didn’t know who Claude Levi-Strauss was—and why I should care? Everything she said seemed out of reach, and so too, was it out of reach for my father, a professor in the sciences. We made fun of her, I am ashamed to say. I think my father did it because her knowledge of theory tapped into his own insecurities about his ignorance. As for myself, I was a child, happy to accept the ordering of my household in this way. After all, my father was the one who gave me hugs before bed, my mother the one who never made it to recitals and concerts. She was strange, speaking with long words and heavy metaphors, when she did come. I didn’t understand her. So I sided with my father. As a high schooler, I did not have the tools to understand my placement in the world. I could not have told you my lineage’s relationship with colonialism. I didn’t know that my mother’s history was a history stretched across a new border. Perhaps part of it was that I was callous. But a miseducation which foregrounded Whiteness and White history in the United States contributed to my disregard and ignorance. Mine was a most traditional of educations: a background in “Atlantic History,” a study of conquistadors, a few years of Latin, and a narrative arch that ended with the neoliberal “beauty” of the 21st century.
realize the political power of writing, the way it can disrupt these words in communicating what it is that we students existing narratives of the “truth.” I saw writing as a site of and professors study. Perhaps, we came to conclude, it confronting power, but had not yet envisioned liberation. might be more apt to say that ours was the study of Power and Liberation. These words helped me understand what As I got older and began to fall in love with the potency my mother ultimately seeks with her art: to understand of writing, I struggled with a binaristic vision of the world, power, and to liberate herself and her people. replete with racial lines and exclusivity. My understanding of what a future could hold for me was modeled after Professor Okihiro also helped me refine my understanding what I saw as the primary tension of the world, the tension of language. Justice, he explained, was perhaps not the word between White people and Black people. Anti-Blackness I meant. Justice implies the presence of authority, that there weighed heavily on my mind growing up alongside Black are small acts that can be done to create equity. Perhaps, he artists and Black communities. And so I swore off my right seemed to say, what I had meant all along was liberation, a to write, because I didn’t believe that I deserved to take up freedom from all oppression, the defanging of power into space. Justice too, was a binary for me, and justice meant something more beautiful and more tender: love. silencing myself to make way for Black writers and Black art. I was part of the problem, I knew. I had listened to my I have come back to writing these days, having learned to mother enough, read enough, to know this was the case. I extricate myself from the binaristic language that my classes spoke to my English professor many times about this con- in high school gave me. Studying power has taught me how cern, and though he tried to convince me that things were it has shaped my body and my life. more complicated than I realized, I didn’t believe him. You want to know why Ethnic Studies is important to me. I couldn’t write in the name of justice, so I convinced myself The truth is here before you. Ethnic Studies at Yale has to fall in love with law. I watched Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal made me feel whole again. It has made me understand the religiously, wanting to be just like Olivia Pope. This state of struggles my mother went through, it has dignified my peraffairs continued until last semester. I was insecure about son with the right to speak, and perhaps most importantly, my writing, because no one told me it could be useful in it has taught me that justice, and perhaps more importantly, advancing justice. As I waded further into Yale, I became liberation, is not something that is singularly promulgated more cognizant of how my socioeconomic privilege figured by the law. Liberation can be inched towards with writing, further into the reasoning for silence, this intention to void art-making, seeing the future. The path to liberation lies in my person in language. loving yourself and in dignifying yourself with the time to learn to grow. Liberation is something my mother and I talk I fought with my mother almost weekly first year. I did ri- about making together. diculous things in the name of pain. I went on a keto diet. I overcommitted. I didn’t sleep some nights. I cried in my The path to liberation is littered with actions: calling my top-bunk. I forgot what home meant. I imagined justice as mom on Sunday afternoons, talking to her about Dr. Kelan unpliable, sticky liquid. I became friends with a Black lie Jones’s piece, and did she have any recommendations? writer and felt further implicated in every corner of injus- It is the understanding between us that the institutions of this world have tried to figure our people, the people of the tice with no tools to fight back. Third World, out of existence and into silence. It is owning And then I took Intro to Third World Studies with Profes- up to anti-Blackness in the Asian American community sor Gary Okihiro, a well-known and well-loved Ethnicity, but realizing that it is a part of deeper and more insidious Race & Migration course. Professor Okihiro lended me the mechanisms at work. It is understanding every way power language I needed to understand and dignify my mother’s inches into our lives. Recalling those different communiwork, and to understand my own social formation. I began ties we drifted to, I think I was in the fight all along: the to call my mother weekly to chat about the readings. She coalition of artists in Brooklyn that showered me with love had read everything I had read when she was in graduate and tried to pass the torch of passion and resilience down school. For the first time in my life, I started to see myself to the next generation. I thought my hand was burning this in the mirror in the morning. I started to realize that my whole time. But Ethnic Studies has finally taught me how mother and I are part of a community that has always strug- to grasp the handle, and with this light, to glimpse our fugled to be understood and to understand the world in turn. ture: liberation.
One of my few respites was English class, where Black professors taught us Black literature. The summer after my sophomore year, I received a first edition of The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin as a prize for an English award. I was talking to Professor Okihiro the other day, about the The book sits on my bookshelf at home now, alongside all naming of the program as “Ethnicity, Race & Migration.” my mother’s volumes. After I read that book, I began to Our conversation eventually touched on the inefficacy of
50 YEARS: A TIMELINE OF ADVOCACY FOR STUDENTS
La Casa Boricua is founded as a cultural center for Puerto Rican students at Yale.
Students coordinated with the admissions office to organize an admitted students weekend for “Third World Students,” whom they defined as Puerto Ricans, Asians, Chicanos, Blacks, and Native Americans.
A year of strikes at SFSU and UC Berkeley lead to the founding of the country’s first Ethnic Studies programs, as well as the first Asian American studies program, the first Black studies program, the first Latinx studies program, and the first Native American Studies program. Ethnic Studies programs begin to pop up around the country, largely concentrated on the West Coast. Yale’s African American Studies Program and the Afro-American Cultural Center (then called Afro-America) are created as a result of activism led by the Black Student Alliance at Yale’s (BSAY ) co-moderators, Armstead Robinson, Donald Ogilvie, and Glenn DeChabert. This is the first year that Black Studies courses are taught at Yale; BSAY was formed five years earlier, in 1964.
Students successfully advocate for the renaming of Pierson’s “slave quarters.”
Asian American Students Association (AASA) is founded. Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) is founded. Women are admitted to Yale College to start in the fall of 1969. Women compose 230 of the approximately 1,200 incoming first-years. Student leader Don Nakanishi writes a letter to then-President of Yale, Kingman Brewster, advocating for the creation of a program for “Floating Ethnic Counselors.” His idea centers on the hiring of “Third World” students to mentor first-years.
Yale creates the Ethnic Counselors position, which still exists today in the form of Peer Liaisons.
“La Casa Cultural” is renamed “La Casa Cultural Julia de Burgos, the Latinx Cultural Center” as the space is expanded to include not only Puerto Rican students, but also Chicanx students and students of other Latinx heritages.
Students protest racist acts, such as a hate letter and racist graffiti, and demand that the administration discontinue its focus on teaching and studying Western civilization.
Student demands lead to the foundation of a cultural center for Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Chicanx students.
The Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) is founded.
Mar. 7 Ethnicity, Race, and Migration is founded as a program by a unanimous vote, but only as a second major—students must major in another discipline as well.
MEChA writes a letter to President Brewster, demanding that Yale create a Chicanx Cultural Center.
1969 1970 1972 1973 1974 1980 1981 1982 1989 1990 1997 1999
ORGANIZING AND OF COLOR AT YALE 2000 2002 2006 2007 2008 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2019 Students are able to major in ER&M as a single major.
Students found an anti-racism group which pushes for more sustained dialogue around diversity at Yale, and spearheaded Diversity Training for Freshman Counselors and a Yale Curriculum Review.
After 31 years of existing as a program at Yale, African American Studies is elevated to departmental status.
Yale commits to the creation of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.
The Native American Cultural Center, previously housed inside the Asian American Cultural Center, receives its own building at 26 High Street and becomes the fourth Cultural Center.
The Ethnic Counselor program is restructured into the current Peer Liaison (PL) structure. The LGBTQ Co-op and the Chaplain’s Office also create PL positions.
In response to incidents of blackface and spray-painted slurs, students demand that Yale implement first-year reading requirements, expand the Ethnic Counselor program, and establish a cultural studies requirement.
AASA conducts a day of silence to protest anti-Asian racist articles published in two Yale publications, Rumpus and this publication, the Yale Herald.
Yale renames the position of Master as “Head of College.” Yale announces it will not rename Calhoun College. In response, students hold a symbolic renaming ceremony.
Students revive the Asian American Studies Task Force to research and protest the lack of Asian American Studies classes offered at Yale.
Feb. 11 Yale reverses its decision and announces the renaming of formerly Calhoun College as Grace Hopper College.
Nov. 3 In a University-wide email, President Peter Salovey and Provost Ben Polak announce Yale’s promise to invest $50 million over the following five years in the improvement of faculty diversity. Nov. 9 More than 1,000 student organizers participate in a March of Resilience and teach-in as a response to a variety of racist events, including racist incidents at fraternities, emails from Associate Master of Silliman College Erika Christakis instructing students to look the other way if they saw a racist or insensitive Halloween costume, and Yale’s refusal to rename Calhoun College, named for pro-slavery advocate John C. Calhoun. Nov. 12 The alliance of students, Next Yale, presents a list of demands to President Peter Salovey, including an Ethnic Studies distributional requirement, increases in the operational budgets of each cultural center, the renaming of Calhoun, and an abolition of the title of “Master.”
MEChA and AASA each celebrate 50th anniversaries. The 13 Professors appointed in the program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration withdraw from the program, citing a lack of administrative support, funding, and hiring power, among other issues. The Coalition for Ethnic Studies begins to organize for the advancement of Ethnic Studies and institutional support and departmental status for the program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration.
This timeline was organized by Elliot Wailoo, SY ’21, and Christian Fernandez, BF ’20, with additional research by Seyade Tadele, TD ’21. It uses research and resources gathered by students in Professor Quan Tran’s Fall 2018 seminar, Comparative Ethnic Studies (ER&M 300). Those students are: Emily Almendarez, Vernice Chan, Ann Hui Ching, Shamsa Derrick, Christian Fernandez, Yuki Hayasaka, Supriya Kohli, Ben Levin, Ruhi Manek, Mariah Minigan, Matthew Motylenski, Sophie Neely, Chidera Osuji, Natalia Reyes Becerra, Spencer Shimek, Amanda Taheri, Marisa Vargas-Morawetz, and Jesús Yanez. Their full project can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2Xe4ogH we encourage you to check it out!
The four pieces featured here are satirical and do not reflect the views of the Herald and its contributing writers.
BREAKING: Yale to Replace ER&M Faculty with Avocados SONIA GADRE, SY ’20
EW HAVEN, CT—In light of Yale’s lack of support for the ER&M program and the withdrawal of 13 world class professors from the University, Dean Gendler announced earlier today that Yale will be partnering with Avocados From MexicoTM. “We want our students to know that we are working to solve the issue,” she said at a press conference. “That is why we will be replacing ER&M faculty members with avocados.”
While the details of the partnership have yet to be unveiled, last Thursday President Salovey tweeted, “Well, fuck me slowly with a banjo—Papa Salovey loves some avo toast!” He also announced at a press conference that–– much like Yale’s financial commitment to the ER&M department––the deal with Avocados From MexicoTM will be “easy on the 29.4 billion dollar endowment.” In fact, Avocados From MexicoTM would actually be paying the University to market in the dining halls.
When questioned further about how such a partnership would remedy the disservice While many students on campus are still disto the 87 ER&M majors, Gendler whis- tressed about the whitewashing of both Yale’s pered, “The avocados. They’re from Mexico.” programs and its faculty, Dean Gendler assured
the student body that installing Mexican themed avocado carts in all of the dining halls will not be the end of the line when it comes to fixing this “deeply important problem.” Within the next year, Yale also plans to partner with Starbucks, to bring students pumpkin spice lattes in the week leading up to Thanksgiving break. “This will be an incredible way to educate students about the culture of Indigenous peoples!” said Gendler. “After all, it was the Native Americans who taught our Great Founding Fathers about pumpkins.”
Get Informed MARY MILLER, TC ’20 things, and what’s going on with those things, ter too, and one for Latinas. Once I knew that, instead of just going with what other people say I totally understood how fucked up it is that about things. Yale won’t make a cultural center for ER&M. At the end of the day, ER&M people deserve So I did a lot of reading about it, and I listened to feel like they belong at Yale like any other to people identified as ER&M and people race or ethnicity. who didn’t. After all that, I could definitively say that I If I hadn’t done my research, I wouldn’t have do actually support ER&M, so I changed my But you can’t always just follow what other known that there was already an African Amer- profile picture. people do! It’s important to get informed about ican cultural center, and an Asian cultural cenhe other day as I was scrolling on Facebook, I saw everyone changing their profile pictures with picture frames that said “I stand with ER&M.” For a second, I was about to change mine too—but then I decided that I needed to learn more about it before I made a statement. These days, there’s so much pressure to be #woke.
THE YALE HERALD
Programs Yale Needs more than ER&M
Top Five Reasons to Stand with ER&M
GRACE WYNTER, DC ’20 Episodes, Re-Runs, and Marathons: In this offshoot to the robust Film and Media Studies Program, students can finally pursue a concentration in Queer Eye and the Built Environment. Escalators, Ramps, and Moving Sidewalks: The students in this program will one day move the country, by influencing the way America itself moves in this multi-ambulatory discipline. Embezzlement, Reinvestment, and MarketCapitalization: Yale currently lacks a program that actively teaches its students fiscal audacity. This new course of study will encourage students to step out of legal comfort zones to actualize their potential for accumulating un-taxable capital. Eviction, Redlining, and (sub-prime) Mortgages: In conjunction with Yale’s new Urban Studies major, this bold program foregrounds practices in urban planning that originated right here at Yale! Explosions, Refugees, and the Military-IndustrialComplex: A new program housed within the $200 million Jackson School of Global Affairs.
DANIEL YADIN, MC ’21
You get a really good excuse for getting out of commitments with well-meaning allies who totally get that you need to take care of yourself and could not at all be expected to hand in your midterm at a time like this, what with the movement and everything.
Everyone on Facebook will like your profile picture frame. Activism comes in many forms!
The palpable thrill of creating collectivity and wielding student power in the face of a conservative and intransigent administration.
If you don’t you’re racist.
ER&M AND ME The Herald asked five writers to share their personal experiences with ER&M at Yale. Each of their experiences shows us the value and the impact of Ethnic Studies—a field that counters the Western Canon, gives us the tools to critique our institutions, and holds all of Yale accountable.
CAROLYN SACCO, ES ’21
hen I came to Yale two years ago, I didn’t know anything about ER&M. I didn’t know there was any major that consisted of more than learning about the political theories written by different white men, or that there was an academic community that produced the kind of radical scholarship that I wanted to be a part of. I expected that I would be able to take classes related to identity and race, like Race, Class, and Gender in the American City or Third World Studies. But I also found a community at 35 Broadway, where professors contribute to New Haven and go beyond their duties to support students. ER&M has given me the space to be critical of the past and present, but it has also provided me space to imagine a world that is inclusive of all forms of knowledge production.
ER&M has created so many of my most powerful moments at Yale. I heard my classmates read revolutionary pieces of work about topics ranging from U.S. colonization in Puerto Rico to Yale’s transformation of the New Haven landscape in Professor Leah Mirakhor’s Writer/Rioter class. I learned more about my own family’s relationship to the history of adoption in Korea from Mary Lui in Asian American History and about the long struggle for Third World Studies beginning in the 1960s from Gary Okihiro. The circle of students in this major, all of whom are passionate about fostering care for eachother and care for the work that we do together, have impacted me inside and outside of the classroom. I see this passion in class discussions, but it has become most clear to me in this moment: everyone joining together in the Center for Race, Indigeneity,
and Transnational Migration to protect our major in crisis. ER&M has made me believe that it is possible to connect academic work to revolutionary praxis, completely invigorating my purpose at Yale.
I believe is truly pragmatic and important. Furthermore, without the initial guidance from professors Daniel Martinez HoSang, Quan Tran, and Alicia Schmidt Camacho, I would not have been inspired to push for a Tibet studies course–a course that was formed largely from my desire to play a part in decolonizing the Yale curriculum.
The ER&M major has helped me perceive the world in a new light and motivates me to be a better citizen each day; ER&M is more than a major—it is a way of life.
I want Yale to be a campus that tells students and faculty of color that they have a place in this university, one which views global affairs as true global cooperation, and one which is truly “improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship”—as its mission statement claims. Yale must keep its promise to ER&M.
KELSANG DOLMA, PC ’19
he ER&M major has allowed me to pursue my passion in intersectional human rights studies to my heart’s content. From Intro to Critical Refugee Studies to Environmental Justice in South Asia, the flexibility of the interdisciplinary nature of ER&M allowed me to craft an education that
16 THE YALE HERALD
17 GIANNA BAEZ, TC ’21
came to college knowing that I’d probably major in English, but two years later, I still haven’t declared. I think the reason it’s taken me to so long is because when I’ve studied English or literature, I’ve always felt like there’s something missing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of picking up a book and not putting it down, not even blinking, for fear that I will be missing words that could entirely change how I see the world. And yet, in many of the English classes I’ve taken throughout my life, including at Yale, it has been difficult to place myself in the words of white male writers like William Pope, whose poems critiquing Britain’s 18th century wealthy class could never capture the life I lead everyday as a woman of color. The English major
doesn’t cover the people and places I want to learn about. It can’t give me the tools to help brown and black faces like mine after I graduate. But Ethnic Studies has filled that gap, giving me a space to learn about myself, the histories that I come from, and the long line of activists— women, immigrants, Civil Rights leaders, third world students—that have made it possible for my parents to immigrate to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, and for me to study at a place like Yale. ER&M classes have introduced me to the thinkers and scholars like Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and Aimé Césaire, who have written my parents and me into history, where English classes have ignored us. It has made me challenge and interrogate institutions like Yale
University—their histories, their policies, their very lack of care for issues like this. I thought Yale would be a place where students of color didn’t have to push to be seen, struggle to be heard, and to fight to have their education valued, but everyday I am more disappointed with the way Yale administrators choose silence over facing the demands of ER&M faculty and students. I’ve learned that Ethnic Studies is not a field we should take for granted. It is a department students fought for. And we will continue to fight for it.
for minorities, creating disparities between the healthcare systems of white communities and communities of color, including the community I grew up in as the child of Vietnamese refugees. For instance, red-lined districts—neighborhoods into which minorities have been segregated—often have poorer healthcare systems, lacking technological resources and experienced clinicians. In addition, implicit bias allows for discrimination in healthcare to continue unchecked as well. As an aspiring doctor hoping to work in communities of color, ER&M has given me the tools to recognize these racial disparities in healthcare. Because of Ethnic Studies, I
feel better equipped to address not only the ailments of my future patients, but also the context behind these ailments. In retrospect, I can’t imagine how I would understand the world around me if I hadn’t taken ER&M classes. The major has fundamentally challenged what I thought I knew—about power structures, about socioeconomic disparities, and about my own experiences.
We were reading John Locke because he was in the canon, and he was in the canon because we, and others, were studying him. I got so frustrated that I stopped doing my readings, stopped going to class, even. I spent more time with my partner and had my first fumbling––and serious––conversations about race. They held me, kindly but unyieldingly, to a high standard. In the fall of my sophomore year, I took three Ethnic Studies classes. It was a steep learning curve, and I had professors and peers who helped me learn not to fuck up––or to fuck up in ways that helped me grow and notdidn’t hurt other people. Eventually I declared my major as ER&M,
and Ethnic Studies became the thing that allowed me, a white person without an understanding of white supremacy before college, to clearly see the violence at work behind Yale’s decision to elevate the white canon. Ethnic Studies classes have made me feel the most, learn the most, grow the most. The point is not that Ethnic Studies classes are simply better than those in other departments. The point is that without Ethnic Studies, the academy will have nothing with which to hold itself accountable. Without ER&M, Yale will be morally bankrupt.
SARAH NGO, DC ’20
came to Yale intending to focus solely on my path towards medicine through a rigid study of the sciences. It was the second semester of my junior year when, almost on a whim, I took Introduction to Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, as a way to fulfill one of my humanities distributional requirements. I arrived on the first day of class not knowing that I would eventually fall in love with the course, and with ER&M itself. Whatever tip of the iceberg I had seen while studying health policy, ER&M let me dive deep under the surface. I now understand how decades of racialized laws led to inequitable economic and housing conditions
KELLYN KUSYK, SM ’20
took Directed Studies my first year because I wanted to be a writer and I felt gate-kept from conversations about “good books.” I lacked the self-awareness to realize I was only having those conversations among other white people, about white books. In the Spring, I started dating a white ER&M major. Sometimes before bed, I would read the Leviathan or John Locke or whatever in front of them, just to show off. I think they suspected I was being brainwashed before I did. They would say, “I just think we should consider who is being left out when these philosophers are defining ‘man’.” In my classes, there was a creepy amount of self-reflexivity.
50 Years of Organizing for Ethnic Studies In the aftermath of the resignation of 13 ER&M faculty members, the Asian American Students Alliance hosted a conversation panel on April 6 to discuss the state of Ethnic Studies both on campus and nationally. The panel was titled “50 Years of Organizing for Ethnic Studies” in recognition of the organizing that yielded the creation of the first Ethnic Studies program at San Francisco State University in 1969. The speakers were Inderpal Grewal, Professor of ER&M and WGSS, Gary Okihiro, Visiting Professor of ER&M and American Studies, Quan Tran, Lecturer of ER&M and American Studies, Emily Almendarez, SM ’20, Gabriella Blatt, ES ’21, and Yuni Chang, MC ’18. Professor Daniel HoSang, Associate Professor of ER&M and American Studies, and Janis Jin, GH ’20, moderate.
Daniel HoSang: If we think back to Yale’s founding in the very beginning of the 18th century, Yale, like many other lead institutions was effectively segregated for its first 260 years, by race, gender, class, and religion. Whiteness was very much a prerequisite, an indicator about whether one was capable of participating in what’s often called the life of the mind. In 1933, when the first eight residential colleges were opened, the University decided to name one after John Calhoun, a prominent white supremacist. As you walk across Old Campus today and see who makes up the first-year cohort, John Calhoun never imagined a Yale like this. And that’s because of the persistent ways that students, communities, [and] many people outside the University have summoned and mobilized an alternative vision for all of us. At the same time, I think there is some sense that Calhoun’s University still lingers. It lingers in the curriculum, it lingers in the structure of the University. It lingers in the University’s relationship to broader structures of power and authority.
Emily Almendarez: I think that the curriculum could very much be broadened. It’s about broadening it, and about diversifying the student body. Global Affairs [has] an entire space designated for it, [but] ER&M—and Ethnic Studies as a whole—is having to plead for itself in institutions of higher learning. My parents are Central-American and I come from the northern triangle, which is one of the areas that has the most displaced migrants, or the greatest rate, depending on systemic violence. But there is no Central American scholar, there is no scholar here on campus that can do [the region] justice when thinking about environmental justice. I was actually trying to double major in Environmental Studies and ER&M. I came to find that Environmental Studies isn’t interdisciplinary enough and it isn’t intersectional enough. So when I wanted to talk about climate refugees, […] that wasn’t a topic that’s addressed. […] Why is it that if someone wants to study a specific zone because they have a personal tie to it, it’s automatically labeled as “research” rather than something influential that’s broadening academic horizons?
that impact in my classroom or somewhere on a brochure. DH: Thank you. Professor Okihiro, maybe to take that very provocative closing Gabriella left us with […] Could you talk to us a little bit about what the history might have for us to think with and from today? Gary Okihiro: Here in Dwight Chapel, I can hear the sound of waves. And the waves emanate not from the Atlantic but from the Pacific. I’d like to go back farther than 50 years. Here, at Yale College, in 1800 the Dwight family took Opukaha’ia in as an example of missions to convert Hawai’ians, the Native peoples who had been forming societies, histories, cultures, religions, poetry—to teach them civilization. Is Yale still a part of that mission of colonization?
Our field of study is not for a small benighted group of people within the United States. When students in 1968 struck for Third World Liberation, they struck for the peoples of the Third World. It was a global struggle, they knew. And that global struggle involved not just people of color—it involved a cause. And that cause was anti-colonialism, that dominated the world, and anti-racism, the ideology that So I want to turn to you now, Professor Grewal. Both of us started our academic careers at public institutions on the [T]his is a demand and it’s palpable and it’s being ignored. supported the material relations of dependency. West Coast, and I wonder if you could talk about how that experience shapes your understanding both of how these DH: People often think that the contributions of programs That was the cause for which this field was founded: it was programs can be organized, and what Yale’s investment [in like ER&M are to serve a small subset of self-selected stu- part of a global struggle that eventually overturned some dents who are trying to work through identity issues. [...] 400 years of world history. We are not talking about a tiny Ethnic Studies] is. One recurring theme is recruitment, and the contention that subject matter for a tiny group of the United States. We are Inderpal Grewal: I’ve been here for the last 10 years and Yale simply always attracts the best and the brightest, and talking about the human condition, and the liberation of all it’s been eye-opening to see how the leading universities if it happens that [students] come from elite backgrounds of us, all of us, as oppressed peoples. on the East Coast function and to understand the ways in and are overwhelmingly white, then that is [ostensibly] the which American elitism is produced. [There] was a really effect of the intellectual marketplace. Alumni have insisted Imagine that. fluid connection between the [West Coast] community and that’s not true, and we can see the impact of that work in a the [public] University and that is certainly not the case for changed student body today. And so I want to turn to Ga- And yet Yale, which aspires to be a global institution underelite universities [on the East Coast] … We’ve come to un- briella now. Like many students here, you [were a] highly standing world history, ignores this discourse. derstand that the knowledge, research, and teaching done recruited student of color in part because of your eminent in universities is really important for [the] movement as a research record as a high school student. Yale took efforts to In 1900, in London, at the seat of the British Empire, the whole, because colleges and universities are places of think- bring you here, to offer you support, but I want to know how scholar W.E.B. DuBois declared that the problem of the 20th century was the problem of the color line. And DuBois ing and experimentation, of political speech, of the ability to you’ve experienced the University. wasn’t simply talking about color; he was talking about how speak freely. I think it’s important to reclaim Yale as a place the white world has colonized through imperialism the rest Gabriella Blatt: One of the things that attracted me to Yale where political work can be done and continues to be done. initially was the amount of brochures that came in that made of the world. He was talking about anti-colonialism and anHow do we deal with the ways in which climate change is note of diversity pipeline programs. That meant a lot to me ti-racism, and that was the foundation of study. But beyond going to create millions and millions more climate migrants? as someone who wanted to do research. […] However, every that, if we think of ourselves as studying the human condiHow do you deal with the [fact that] the U.S. has been at day I question the validity about the diversity pipeline pro- tion, we understand the forces of oppression to be multiple, grams when I see that the professor that wrote my recom- not just around the axis of race, but also importantly around war for a long time, in places that seem really far away? mendation letter was denied tenure because he was told that gender, sexuality, class, and nation, what was articulated in the I think about the problem of decolonization not only in terms his research was not suited for the academy, despite his work 1960s and 1970s as the interlocking systems of oppression. of diversifying the faculty but in terms of decolonizing the revolutionizing his field. […] In my Yale acceptance letter, That’s what we study, because we are determined to underUniversity. What does it mean to decolonize that curriculum? Yale told me I would be able to make an impact anywhere in stand those forces of oppression in order to liberate ourselves the world. However, I question if they wanted me to make from those forces. That is the aim of this field of study.
19 It’s beautiful, isn’t it? … Yeah. DH: I hope you can see why, in spite of the challenges that we faced as ER&M faculty, this is also such an energizing moment with colleagues like this and knowing the intellectual and political commitments that are at stake in our program, students like this alumni that we feel connected to the enormous stakes we feel at this moment. IG: Last year, I had the privilege of teaching the first South Asians in America course, with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. So as political movements change and evolve during this moment, where trans issues are really critical, how we think of those in relation to race and ethnicity is always an important issue. […] I have one story of what people can do when they study our fields. [O]ne of my students, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who was a joint AFAM/WGSS major, is one of the
co-writers of the Green New Deal, so it’s incredible to see what people can do if they think about race, class, gender together, and think about how to improve the world […] The Westphalian system of the nation-state is not adequate to the challenges that we face. So worlds have always been plural; they have been mobile; they have always struggled. And in some ways we need to think about both the past in that way and the future in that way. Our struggle has to be ongoing. We have to think about pluralities; we have to think democratically; we have to think about [...] animals and the non-human world too. How do we enable all of our flourishing—not just [the flourishing of ] a few of us? EA: I think that generally it’s important to attribute respect and dignity to those fields, as well as to the faculty that help produce that knowledge. But I think that in that power diffusion, it’s also important to understand that
these Third World countries are producers of knowledge themselves—not just areas of study, not just digestible consumables. It’s about taking a step back and understanding that institutions like these aren’t the only producers of knowledge and solutions. I think that it’s about having iterative conversations between those that have been allotted this opportunity to take up these spaces, but also about understanding that it doesn’t end in the classroom, the same way that this fight doesn’t end with the departmentalization of ER&M. That conversation, that drive for a solution, for the betterment of our world and our planet, doesn’t stop as soon as that course or that conversation ends.
Why Do None of My Professors Look Like Me? GABRIELLA BLATT, ES ’21
n 2009, 308 years after Yale was founded, Dr. Ned Blackhawk became the first tenured Native American professor at Yale College in the Department of History and American Studies. Since being at Yale, Professor Blackhawk has taught numerous classes including Introduction to American Indian History and Writing Tribal Histories, two of the few Native Studies classes that have been consistently offered over the years. He helped establish the Native American Language Program, which lets Native students take their Native languages—from Choctaw to Lakota—through online classes. He has seen the opening of the Native American Cultural Center in 2013, which provided a space on campus for the ever-growing Native community at Yale. 10 years after joining Yale, however, Professor Blackhawk remains the University’s only tenured Native professor. To be the only Native American in the room has been a common theme in my life. To feel like I must represent all Native Americans. To feel like if I make one mistake, this is reflective of my entire tribe. This is a debilitating feeling. I can’t help but wonder how these feelings would intensify if I was the only tenured Native professor at a university. What does it mean to be the only Native your university thinks is doing work worthy of Yale tenure? How does it feel when you’re often the only Native voice in faculty meetings? Further, how does it feel to know that the Native students you teach have only one tenured Native professor at their university? Since coming to Yale, I have decided I want to be a professor. I want to study and teach Native American Literature. But more than that, I want to mentor and teach other Native students that find themselves in institutions of higher education
like Yale. I’ve come to this decision after thinking about my experiences within the Native community at Yale, specifically, with Professor Blackhawk. He was the first Native American professor I had ever met. It is through his work that I get to engage with so many other Native schools of thought. I’ve seen the impact that he’s made within the Native community at Yale, as we flock to him to learn about parts of our histories. We go to him as a mentor, asking him for advice on how to survive at Yale as Native students. But more than that, we go to him as a friend—he can be found at community celebrations, including our fall retreat, our holiday party, and our graduation celebration, each with his family in tow. Yet, as I continue on my path towards becoming a professor, it becomes more clear to me that Yale is clearly not interested in preparing me for this role. Every day my education feels like a gamble. I am constantly questioning whether or not enough courses in Native Studies will be offered in order for me to meet my degree requirements, and for me to feel adequately prepared to study this subject in graduate school. For example, after Indigenous Feminisms was last offered in 2016, it wasn’t offered again until the spring of 2019, and only because the Dean of the Native American Cultural Center, Kelly Fayard, volunteered to teach it—without compensation. After this semester, Fayard is leaving. What happens after that? Do we just wait until someone comes along and volunteers to teach it again?
One professor simply cannot cover all that Native Studies encompass. To ask Professor Blackhawk to cover Native American history, Contemporary Native Studies, Native American Literature, Native American Law, and more is impossible. For Yale to rely on the labor of unpaid Native faculty and the revolving door of visiting professors to cover these gaps is unsustainable. To make students go without these topics takes away from our education in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. To make Native students go without this field takes away from our identity. Yale has a rapidly growing Native student body, of which Yale isn’t shying away to advertise in diversity brochures. So why does Yale shy away from committing the space that Native Studies needs in this institution? If Yale truly had any interest in creating a robust Native Studies program its 29.4 billion dollar endowment would have done so already. Perhaps Yale forgets that this endowment began with resources stolen from Native people. Perhaps Yale forgets that its foundation lies on the stolen land of the Quinnipiac people. We need more tenured and tenure-track Native professors. We need classes that aren’t going to be offered for one year and then disappear. Simply put, we need the foundation that was stolen from us to create this university. We need Yale to commit to this. We’re waiting. Until then: no, I won’t smile for your brochure photo.
Even when visiting professors teach courses in Native Studies, they are here for a year, and then they leave. How can student-faculty relations be built if Native Studies are constantly in a state of rotation? What happens to students’ piqued research interests when these visiting professors leave?
After 50 ANANYA KUMAR-BANERJEE, BK ’21
(excerpts from speakers at the 50 Years of Organizing Panel, AASA 50th reunion, 2019)
This newscast is brought to you, televised in technicolor. Illuminated genealogy in Dwight Hall, where students exit seats Swiftly, when asked to “make space for alumni” We clasp one another in this sun, this hour, Microphone drifting in and out, recalling The organizing logic of white supremacy, requiring reimagination, a Yale yet to be realized. Sometimes I wonder what is lost in entry; the one promise I made that still lingers: never to be like my father. Or my mother, who for those few years tried to teach, and listen, And maybe, partly, to fight. A recent graduate says they are a student of ethnic studies For life, these professors raised them. They return this chapel To the lecture hall, to Third World Studies, to ask us: What is dignified, and what is not? In this place of experimentation, Where the only thing bent seems to be our bodies: And the blueness under our eyes.
I know most of us Haven’t eaten a full meal in days. What things are you willing to put on the back burner? For us, food. For them, our dignity. We ask instead: how are we to enable all of our flourishing? This is a story of continuity. After 50 years, We locate ourselves in the soft tissue of history. We are grateful. We owe a debt. Sohum says he’s been asked where he’s from More than usual these past few days, he’s tired. I want to ask: What is your dream? In what imagined world do you find the future? Where is the place where we extinguish these troubles, Find different things to be upset about, shift Focus to the weather and dry elbows. I want sometimes to go to the world Where I am loved from all angles, and not Just in this light—this sun, this hour. We are talking about the human condition, The liberation of all of us As oppressed people, hoping to understand Those forces of oppression, To liberate ourselves. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
20 THE YALE HERALD
COLORING PAGE LAKSHMI AMIN, BR â€™21
SYLLABUS MIXTAPE For the full playlist, scan the soundwaves below on Spotify!
For the full playlist, search for “Decolonize Your Mind” on your Spotify app and scan the sound-
“Mi Gente” by Marc Anthony “Tyrone” by Erykah Badu “Facebook Drama” by Northern Cree “Xochipitzahua/Flor Menudita” by Lila Downs “Ode to Baldwin” by Anye Elite, James Baldwin “Someone To Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones “Immigrants” by K’NAAN, Snow the Product “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson “Q.U.E.E.N.” by Janelle Monáe “Give Peace A Chance” by The Plastic Ono Band “Brujas” by Princess Nokia “You Got The Love” by Rufus, Chaka Khan “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron “Mississippi Goddam” by Nina Simone “Almeda” by Solange “R.E.D.” by A Tribe Called Red
For the full playlist, search for “Decolonize Your Bajo Laand Misma (2007) Mind” on your Spotify app scanLuna the soundThe Battle of Algiers (1966) Charulata (1964), based on the novel “The Broken Nest” by Rabindranath Tagore Dreams (1990) El Norte (1983) Happy Together (1997) I Am Not Your Negro (2016), based on the memoir “Remember this House” by James Baldwin Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua Para Chocolate) (1992), based on the novel by Laura Esquivel Mohawk Girls (2010–2017) (TV Series) Moonlight (2016) Saving Face (2004) Us (2019) The Watermelon Woman (1996) We the Animals (2018)
22 THE YALE HERALD
Memories of a Penitent Heart (2017) Mohawk Girls (2005) Reel Injun (2009) The True Cost (2015) 13th (2016)
“Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo “A Cyborg Manifesto” by Donna Haraway “Black Study, Black Struggle” by Robin Kelly
If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar When I Grow Up I Want to Be A List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner Magical Negro by Morgan Parker Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith A Cruelty Special to Our Species by Emily Jungmin Yoon
23 BOOKS FROM THE 13
BOOKS FROM THE 41
Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West by Ned Blackhawk Migrant Imaginaries: Latino Cultural Politics in the U.S. Mexico Borderlands by Alicia Schmidt Camacho Saving the Security State: Exceptional Citizens in Twenty First Century America by Inderpal Grewal Islam is a Foreign Country by Zareena Grewal The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City by Mary Lui Third World Studies: Theorizing Liberation by Gary Okihiro Street Therapists: Race, Affect, and Neoliberal Personhood in Latino Newark by Ana Ramos-Zayas
Fiction Across Borders by Shameem Black Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba by P. Sean Brotherton Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940 by George Chauncey Colonial Phantoms: Belonging and Refusal in the Dominican Americas, from the 19th Century to the Present by Dixa Ramirez The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness by Birgit Brander Rasmussen
Custer Died For Your Sins by Vine Deloria, Jr. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students by Anthony Jack The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherrie Moraga Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire by Sonia Shah Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
NOVELS I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua Yoruba Girl Dancing by Simi Bedford Not Vanishing by Chrystos The Round House by Louise Erdrich Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Bad Indians by Deborah Miranda The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen There There by Tommy Orange The Gurkha’s Daughter by Prajwal Parajuly
illustration by Hannah J. Lee