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Ethnic Studies: Kalamazoo College’’s Ethnic Studies program kicks off this quarter Dr.Reid Gomez at forefront of movement

By Mireya Guzmán-Ortíz

Dr. Reid Goméz, Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies, introduced herself to a mixed crowd of faculty and students in Olmsted on Thursday January 9. In the lecture, titled “What is Ethnic Studies,” Dr. Goméz opened by thanking the indigenous, and talked about the roots of the Ethnic Studies movement and how Kalamazoo College is slowly bringing a Department of Ethnic Studies to campus.

Kalamazoo College is in the midst of implementing an Ethnic Studies program. However, many do not know what Ethnic Studies is, or how it was born. At the presentation, Goméz showed a video detailing the roots of Ethnic studies in 1960s San Francisco. It was at that time that rising self-awareness and radicalization of the students of color brought demands of representation to campus at San Francisco State University.

Various groups of people of color joined together and called themselves the Third World Liberation Front and organized a strike and successfully brought Ethnic Studies to campus. Following the steps of SFSU, students of color at the University of California at Berkeley united to make their own Third World Liberation Front and initiated a strike of their own. These two strikes have been the longest student strikes in this nation’s history and made Ethnic Studies and important branch in academia.

While the context and political climate is different from that of California four decades ago, students at K have initiated the movement for Ethnic Studies to be brought to campus.

“The K community is powerful and a huge asset for bringing about Ethnic Studies to campus,” said Dr. Goméz.

Beginning spring  quarter, Dr. Goméz will teach a 200-level class titled “Introduction to Ethnic Studies.” Already, people are lining up to register. Willina Cain ’16 plans to take the class this spring, as well as Lesley Willard ’17 who said that “no one talks about these issues and when we do, it’s uncomfortable.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Goméz is facilitating conversations all over campus. Ethnic Studies conversations will be held in the Olmsted Room starting Wednesday, January 15. The conversations will vary in topic and be held throughout the quarter. These will be supplemented by a blog that is accessible through the portal (https://reason.kzoo.edu/ethnicstudies/). Recommended books and an updated calendar of events can also be found on the Ethnic Studies webpage.

Additionally, Dr. Goméz can be reached at rgomez@kzoo.edu and in her office, Humphrey House 107. She is open to all kinds of dialogue and questions.