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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Ethnic Studies Panel Encourages Positive Action For The Future

Photo by: Logan Payne
(Right to Left) Auguste Kouadio speaks to the audience as Victoria Benavides, Rigoberto Garcia, and Eric Escovedo sits alongside him.

Five of the seven full-time Cultural and Women’s Studies Department faculty spoke to students about the power of conjoined perspectives in a discussion panel on April 30, 2024.

Intro to Ethnic Studies is a 2-year-old, highly populated course that is, according to Victoria Benavides, in review by a “subcommittee of CSU faculty” who will determine if the course meets the newly mandated Area F requirement. If the course doesn’t meet the requirement, it is at risk of being shut down.

“This is a type of adversity that we won’t give up to. You as a student gotta wake up and say ‘we want ethnic studies’ again as they did 30 years ago. If you don’t raise your hand, if you don’t say something, this place is gonna go quick,” Auguste Kouadio said.

K-12 schools are also reconsidering their Ethnic Studies plan of action, considering how difficult it is to find qualified instructors who can manage under Area F. Koaudio calls this a “widespread effort to squish ethnic studies.”

Gena Gong confirmed that students actively enrolled in Intro to Ethnic Studies will still earn Area F credits, but the students next semester might not be so lucky.

To rally student interest and stress the importance of the ethnic studies curriculum, the five speakers discussed the harsh realities of a world without cultural incorporation in education.

During the first 10 minutes of the discussion, speaker Rigoberto Garcia juxtaposed the diversity that exists within Fresno against the manner in which public schools tend to organize different knowledge and perspectives. 

Garcia lists statistics, citing that Fresno is home to over 70 diverse ethnic groups, and that Fresno students speak over 59 languages. However, most of these students have been tailored to only speak one language, usually English, all throughout school. Garcia himself only spoke Spanish when he joined education, and barely touches the language in class nowadays.

Garcia references subtractive schooling: an intangible process originally proposed by Angela Valenzuela where schools subtract resources from students. Kouadio and Erik Escovedo, the American Indian instructor, touched on the procedural subtraction of one’s culture in the U.S.

“Sometimes we can’t translate a word from our native language into the normative language. Sometimes it’s the opposite. So we get caught up in this idea of a ‘normative language,’ and sometimes, it makes us feel like your own culture and your own identity really doesn’t matter. But it does. ” Kouadio said.

“When it’s called upon, I do talk about whiteness in that way [compared to indigenous experience], but we have spaces for that already. It’s called U.S. History. I’ve been studying U.S. history, white history, since I was in first grade, we all have,” Escovedo said.

Victoria Benavides admitted that she does not “shy away” from talking about the dynamics of whiteness in tandem with Mexican heritage.

“What do you mark on the census when it says race, and what do you mark when it says ethnicity? How are those boxes confining? And so, I often will talk about whiteness amongst Mexican communities particularly, because in Chicanx studies, I didn’t learn about that,” Benavides said.

The discussion encouraged several questions from the audience of about 50, and each answer alluded to the complexity of each Cultural and Women’s Studies course. The speakers made it clear that Ethnic Studies exists to bring all communities together and learn alongside one another, not to fight against any one majority.

During the first 15 minutes of the discussion, Victoria Benavides was interviewed in the far corner of the building by a journalist from CBS47. The journalist took pictures of the speakers and students for about an hour before departing.

The discussion panel was the final on-campus event of Asian American Month, and it took place in Forum Hall 101 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.


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Logan Payne
Logan Payne, Reporter
Logan Payne joins us this semester as an eager reporter, excited to make his mark. Standing tall at 6’5”, Logan makes quite the first impression with his colorful Crocs and signature Seinfeld pants. Don’t be fooled by his fashion though, this reporter is resilient and juggles the many responsibilities that come with five classes and employment at Maya Cinemas. Before joining The Rampage, Logan was involved with the Roosevelt Theater Company for four years where he wrote, directed, acted, and worked backstage for many productions. He’s also a certified linguist who has always loved to read and write stories. Logan has grown very familiar with the cutting room; hours slip away when he video edits due to his perpetual perfectionism. He is well-versed in the art of film and knows that every frame shown and every note heard makes a key difference in the bigger picture. This isn’t his first time in a newsroom either; he’s put together many news packages for Roosevelt High and CART projects over the years and is more than comfortable with conducting an interview or being the handyman on set. Logan can’t work on anything without being meticulous, and this eye for detail makes him a wonderful asset to the team. This is Logan’s second semester as a journalism major here at Fresno City College, and he likes to spend his time on campus productively. When he’s not in class, he’s in the library catching up on schoolwork or building a narrative with his team in The Rampage office.

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