For five years, California has been constructing a new “Ethnic Studies” curriculum. Leftists in the schools have long used such programs for training young “social justice warriors.” For generations, they cloaked these efforts behind catchphrases like “fightingcensorship,” “academic freedom,” and the grandfather of them all, “separation of Church and State.” This new curriculum hides less and makes its case openly.
Troy Thurmond, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, stated the rationale for the Ethnic Studies course. “Our schools have not always been a place where students can gain a full understanding of the contributions of people of color and the many ways throughout history — and present-day — that our country has exploited, marginalized, and oppressed them. At a time when people across the nation are calling for a fairer, more just society, we must empower and equip students and educators to have these courageous conversations in the classroom.”
A Mandated Program
The California Assembly passed the Ethnic Studies mandate in 2016. The State Board of Education approved guidelines for the new course in July 2018. They rejected three drafts. The fourth draft was released on March 18, 2021.
People outside of the realm of education seldom read such documents. Their writers use a dense prose, sometimes called “educationese,” that renders them laborious reading. However, traditionalists need to follow these deliberations closely. The liberal state of education in California is a bellwether for the rest of the nation.
When such dense documents propose that students sing Aztec chants, parents need to be vigilant.
Such requirements are not immediately apparent. For the most part, the 2018 approved set of guidelines consist of “boilerplate” language. There is the usual warning to “include accurate information” and align to previously set state standards. However, the “General Principles” section contains key phrases that reveal the leftist slant of those who framed the document.
“Promote the values of civic engagement and civic responsibility.” Civic engagement has become a catchphrase for leftist educators. “Engagement” means street-level agitation. Likewise, “responsibility” means that students will take all opportunities for such action.
“Promote self and collective empowerment.” Pretend that the word “self” is not here. The left is not interested in encouraging independent thought. Individualists might see flaws in progressive platitudes. The key term here is “collective empowerment.” The left needs foot soldiers that they can divide according to ethnicity, “gender,” and “sexual preference.” The precise cause is unimportant. The movement has few definable goals other than a vague sense of “social justice.” They want to promote confusion and discord in a spirit of revolution.
“Promote critical thinking and rigorous analysis of history [and] systems of oppression….” Critical thinking is another educational buzz-phrase that has comes from the sixties motto, “question authority.” Modern leftists call any system that creates rules and order a “system of oppression.” That thinking developed into the “critical race theory,” as expressed in the New York Times “1619 Project.”
The Third World Liberation Front
The guidelines start to get close to Aztec culture with the curious instruction to “include information on the ethnic studies movement, specifically the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF).”
The TWLF came out of the California University system in 1969 and had strong connections to other radical groups. The Socialist Worker describes it.
“The TWLF was a coalition of student organizations of color. In many ways, it was formed by the BSU [Black Student Union], but it also included a Latin@ student organization (LASO), a Mexican American student organization (MASC), the Filipino organization called PACE and the Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action (ICSA)…. [I]t’s no coincidence that they called themselves the TWLF — like the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. They were all internationalists — not necessarily Marxist, but internationalist.”
One TWLF demand was that the state would create a “Third World College” with a curriculum designed for “people of color.” This became the basis of the first “Black Studies Program” and a model for other ethnic group-centered departments in the nation’s universities.
One key goal of TWLF-style Ethnic Studies is “decolonized learning.”
The “woke” definition of decolonization does not harken back to the fifties and sixties when nineteenth-century empires got rid of colonies as fast as they could. Today, the left uses the word in a new context. “Black queer arts and culture writer,” Jamara Wakefield, connects decolonization to several other leftist dreams and nightmares in a Daily Kos article.
“For me, reparations would include decolonizing the American college industrial complex—meaning indigenous land acknowledgment, the abolition of institutional power, and the abolition of tuition. This can only happen through decolonization-centered movements led by coalitions of artists, organizers, students, and all people impacted presently and historically by violence at the hands of universities. After all, colonial colleges…were key players in the domestic terrorism of colonial settlerism and active white supremacist participants in sustaining the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”
The newly released fourth draft of the curriculum provides essential clues to “decolonized” public schools’ content.
“Lesson Resources” includes activities that “allow students to share information about their identities, families, interests, and backgrounds. By incorporating these types of activities into lessons, students will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of their peers and educator, better connect and identify with ethnic studies content, and work to build a safe classroom environment that is grounded in collaboration, compassion, empathy, and vulnerability.”
Most of the “resources” are lists of shopworn classroom techniques and websites on which teachers can find materials. Many of the websites come from ethnically-oriented museums and leftist organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Tolerance” project.
Appealing to Pagan Traditions
At the same time, there is a section called “Affirmations, Chants and Energizers.” Its purpose is to “build unity around ethnic studies principles and values.”
One of these chants is “In Lak Each.” It allegedly comes “from the Mayan Tradition.” The words themselves supposedly mean “you are my other me,” and they aim to engender “love, unity, [and] mutual respect.” It “relates to our habit of mind, empathy, and also compassion, interdependence, ecology, love, and mutual respect.”
The chant includes three Aztec gods’ names – the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, the battle-robed life-death-rebirth god Xipe Totek, and Tezkatlipoka – associated with (among other things) enmity, discord, and rulership.
The Aztecs and Mayans once occupied much of present-day Mexico. Both societies were patriarchal. Ninety percent of both groups were commoners who lived under the absolute rule of a chief, who was also a religious leader. The other ten percent were vicious warriors and enslaved those they captured, except those they sacrificed in gruesome rituals. The Aztecs took human sacrifice to an unprecedented level, once sacrificing over eighty thousand prisoners over four days in 1487 – five years before Columbus landed in America. They also practiced cannibalism.
The “woke” world considers everything that smacks of Christian and Western Civilization to be a product of overarching racism and oppression. Every other “truth” is relative to this false doctrine.
Thus they are willing to excuse gross cruelty on the part of Aztecs and Mayans because those cultures opposed the “colonizers,” who freed them from gruesome religious practices – including mass human sacrifice and cannibalism. Simultaneously, Christian missionaries are depicted as tyrants who tried to “impose” an “alien religion,” even if one of its central tenets is the dignity of all people under the universal Fatherhood of a Loving God.
The Mexican natives enthusiastically embraced that faith under the loving gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Students should not be forced to sing chants to blood-thirsty Gods. Americans cannot stand idly by while self-appointed “social justice warriors” undo her miraculous work.
Photo Credit: © Adobe Stock/Gerardo Borbolla