Module 1. The Significance of Ethnic Studies


Have you ever had your experience or story misrepresented or retold in an inaccurate way?

Has anyone ever taken something of value from you without asking or providing compensation?

The feelings and thoughts you hold about these questions are not different from other people in the United States, particularly those who were forcible driven from their homeland, smuggled into this country from another place, stripped of their identity, exploited for their resources and labor, or those who have been killed or murdered for being different. The most disturbing part of our history and the characterization of these incidences is the ongoing denial, recognition, and reparations for the people who today remain inflicted by the misrepresentation and injustice of our social structures, institutions, and ideologies. No one likes their history or experience retold through fallacies, stereotypes, or lies. No one likes their life or way of living taken from them involuntarily.

Technology and social media have made it easy to block out and change what we hear and think about each other, our experiences, and our stories. Ironically, these tools have also made it easier to share our lives and bring others into our world without time or borders.

Why is it important to share your experience or tell your story in an honest and accurate way? What is the value in sharing your experience or story?

By telling our stories and sharing our experiences, we acknowledge our existence and humanity. Because we have not retold or allowed some people to share their stories and experiences, we deprive them of this acknowledgement. We make some people less than human and justify it by keeping truths and facts hidden.

This book examines race and ethnicity as understood through our history and the experiences of major underrepresented racial groups including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx Americans, and Native Americans in the United States. We will explore a broad range of sociocultural, intellectual, and historical experiences that form the construction and intersectionality of race and ethnicity in the United States by applying macro and micro perspectives of analysis. Furthermore, we will examine the cultural and political contexts behind the systems of power, privilege, and inequality impacting Americans of color. Emphasis is placed on racial and social justice with methods for building a just and equitable society.




To illustrate and compose a method for acknowledging Indigenous people’s land to recognize its connection to our lives and country.


1. Honor Native Land

Acknowledgement is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture by inviting and honoring the truth. Naming is an exercise in power. Who gets the right to name or be named? Whose stories are honored in name? Whose are erased? Acknowledgement of traditional land is a public statement by naming the traditional Native inhabitants of a place. It honors their historic relationship with the land.

We are introducing the practice of land acknowledgment to create greater public consciousness of Native sovereignty and cultural rights, a step toward equitable relationship and reconciliation. Join us in adopting, calling for, and spreading this practice. To participate in this activity, take a moment to research and identify the traditional inhabitants of the land you are on today.

Here are some resources you may view online:

Wikipedia – Entries on many cities document some history of Indigenous inhabitation. Cross-check what you find to verify accuracy.

Native Land– The website provides educational resources to correct the way that people speak about colonialism and indigeneity, and to encourage territory awareness in everyday speech and action.

Native Languages – The resource offers a breakdown by state, with contact information for local tribes.

2. Amplify Your Acknowledgement

Take a moment to acknowledge the traditional inhabitants of the land you are on today. Post an image or story about this class activity on social media where your acknowledgement was offered and tag it #HonorNativeLand to inspire others.

3. Honor Native Land Guide


This resource provides individuals and organizations a guide on how to open public events and gatherings with acknowledgment of the traditional Native inhabitants of the land.

4. Develop Your Acknowledgement

Formulate a statement of acknowledgment you may share at the beginning of class meetings, campus events, or public gatherings. Craft yours after considering several levels of detail you might introduce as illustrated on page 6 of the Honor Native Land Guide. Be prepared to share your acknowledgment with other scholars in class meetings.



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Our Lives: An Ethnic Studies Primer Copyright © 2022 by Vera Guerrero Kennedy and Rowena Bermio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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