The failure to ask “why” perpetuates the myth that higher education is dedicated to a search for the Truth and open equally to all Americans. The truth be told, Chicana/o Studies is only tolerated because it is politically expedient. CHS are tolerated in many institutions because they placate Mexican American students.
It follows a pattern: the administration concedes students one Chicana/o studies class in history – and call it Chicana/o Studies. If the academy feels generous, it gives the students an office, which they share with a faculty member. Often instructors are not specialists in Chicana/o Studies, and they are often not Mexican American – any name that ends in a vowel suffices.
Campuses have not taken CHS seriously; the academe is intellectually lazy, and has not questioned why the disparate departments have failed to integrate this important fund of knowledge.
The justifications for CHS are clear. The nation’s Mexican population is approaching 40 million; the Latino population exceeds 56 million. You would think that most professionals would want know more about this group for professional reasons.
However, after 43 years – a period that has seen the Mexican American population grow from five million — from a regional minority to a national minority – the mindset of academe remains in the dark ages. To my knowledge very few academieians have bothered to examine their curriculum in light of these changes. Indeed, the numbers of programs in CHS have actually declined over the past 40 years.
At California State University Northridge although it has the largest CHS department in the nation with over 67 professors, offering 166 sections per semester, a campus wide curricular discussion has not taken place. The most that has happened is a review of General Education and a recertification of classes that ignore the changes in population.
In 1970 the Mexican/Latino student population in the mammoth Los Angeles Unified School District was 22 percent; today it exceeds 75 percent. In the City of Los Angeles the Latino population has zoomed from about 15 percent to just over 50 percent. Still CSUN is stuck “Anything But Mexican” mindset.
The record speaks louder than words. Seventy-five percent of the CSUN academic departments have not hired a single Mexican American professor – let alone a specialist – and close to 100 percent of the departments do not offer a single course on the Mexican American/Latino experience.
Yet CSUN has made more progress than most institutions. It will tell you that it is a Hispanic Serving Institution, which it boldly lists it on all grant applications. But, does the administration and do our colleagues respect us?
I am not going to go into a discourse on race. Academe is a reflection of society, and the pace of change resembles the Republican Party. Just look at cameos of Republican Presidential Conventions, and look at the delegates who remain mostly white and old. Indeed, ideas of the GOP and the academy remain stuck in the pre-sixties era.
It is easy for Chicana/o professors and other Latinos to get lost in this quagmire. They go along with the agenda because they want a job or because they really don’t know history. Most CHS professors today were born in the 1980s – a scary proposition – they were brought up on Charlie Brown and Mr. Rogers – a few were rescued by Calvin and Hobbes.
It does not occur to them to ask, “why Chicana/o studies?”, and why is there so much resistance to it in academe?
ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Is the Dream Ending? » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.