Black and Ethnic Studies hearing to be held Thursday at Capitol

The California Legislative Black Caucus and Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber will host a hearing Thursday, March 23 where she and leaders from the state’s public higher education systems, including CFA Associate VP South Charles Toombs, will discuss the status of Black and Ethnic Studies.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 to 4 pm Thursday at the State Capitol, Room 126.

Support for these Black Studies programs, departments, and projects “allows for the continued guidance and teaching of a new generation of students who will enrich and contribute to California policy, education, and government,” states the invite from the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC).

As CFA’s paper, “Equity Interrupted: How California Is Cheating Its Future,” revealed, the student demographics of the CSU have shifted over the past 30 years, where students of color are now in the majority, and state funding to the CSU has declined, said Charles Toombs, who teaches Africana Studies at San Diego State.

“In a time when students of color are the majority students, The CSU’s Ethnic Studies Departments and Programs should be strongly supported, in all ways possible, reflecting the importance of the culture and history of the current students in the same ways that traditional disciplines were, and are supported, for the former majority students,” Toombs said.

“The CSU’s own Ethnic Studies Task Force Report underscores the lack of support and myriad issues facing way too many Ethnic Studies Departments and Programs in the CSU. The Task Force’s Recommendations should not only be heeded, support of Ethnic Studies should be central and critical to The CSU’s mission.”

Student interest in black and ethnic studies has been on the rise, but as CSU Dominguez Hills Africana Studies major Justin Blakely can attest, support has been limited.

There aren’t enough full-time tenure track professors in the department, which has resulted in some courses only being offered certain times of the year, which has impacted some students’ ability to graduate, he said.

Blakely’s story was among several student testimonials included in CFA’s “Equity Interrupted” report.

“Ethnic Studies started in the Cal State system at San Francisco State—it should be one of the top priorities in the CSU system,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense that it isn’t being sustained, especially in the time and place we are now as a country.”

Click here to RSVP for the March 23 hearing.