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Block Party a Cultural Exchange in the Era of Trump

The Ethnic Studies Now! Coalition of Santa Barbara (ESNSB) invites the public to its 2nd Annual Block Party for a cultural exchange and celebration of ethnic studies from noon-11 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at Casa de la Raza, 601 E. Montecito St., Santa Barbara.

The ESNSB block party, which is free to attend, unites youth in recognition of the multiculturalism and uniqueness of the area's neighborhoods and communities.

ESNSB teaches the value of our common historical roots by explicitly addressing the diversity that lies at the heart of American democracy.

Most importantly, Ethnic Studies Now! fosters unity through education in the era of Trump.

Local musical celebrities including ALAS, Azlan Underground, Kahuilla King, Danza Mexica Chahtemoc, Chumash Intertribal Singers will perform song, art and spoken word in celebration of Santa Barbara’s historical diversity.

Information and workshops will be available on a variety of grassroots organizations that provide services and social support networks for our citizenry.

Ethnic studies has been shown to build self-esteem and pride in our communities. For example, said Eddie Gonzales, “ESNSB will in effect raise our raza to new levels in our society.”

Student leader Sage Gaspar said, “We need to take control of our schools to better ourselves by having ethnic studies for everyone.”

Casmali Lopez, a Chumash youth activist, maintains that, “self-determination and self reliance and building a community collective like Ethnic Studies Now! is the first step in giving us a voice and empowering ourselves.”

Recently, Santa Barbara students voiced their collective outrage at the Trump administration’s promulgation of a climate of fear and hate by coordinated walkouts from schools and universities.

“I had no idea that Santa Barbara had a Latino population this big,” said Cary Matsuoka, superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD), in a recent interview in the Santa Barbara Independent.

The new superintendent faces the challenge of improving the retention and graduation rates for students of color by helping their overall academic performance. One of the solutions lies in the inclusion of ethnic studies in the SBUSD curriculum.

Investigations have shown that ethnic studies is an approved pedagogy that significantly boosts student performance across the board.

ESNSB works to modify the existing graduation requirements for the SBUSD to include a semester-long UC/CSU transferrable ethnic studies course of five units.

ESNSB seeks to introduce ethnic studies by 2020 so all subsequent graduating classes will be required to complete one ethnic studies course prior to commencement.

— Eddie Gonzales/Marcus Lopez for Ethnic Studies Now!.


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