On March 9th, the Santa Barbara Unified Ethnic Studies Program hosted their annual community forum at La Cumbre Junior Highschool. The event celebrated the students and the progress our programs have made in the district. The celebration was intended for the community of Santa Barbara, along with students, teachers, and faculty from ethinc studies programs in the SB Unified district.
Ethnic Studies courses in Santa Barbara teaches cross-cultural understanding among students of all different heritages and backgrounds to value their own cultural identity while appreciating the differences around them. Along with that, these programs investigate race, ethnicity, culture, gender, language, social class, and immigrantion. Students who take these courses learn the importance of antidiscrimination and work towards advocating for social justice.
Noelle Cabrera, a student at San Marcos High School who was speaking at the event, explained her enthusiasm for the program.
“I am most excited to hear from teacher and student voices and to see what progress has been made in ethnic studies.”
The event was a complete success. The turnout was great and the food was delicious. Everyone gathered around the school’s courtyard, listening to music and feasting on delicious tacos. Around 5:30 P.M, Chumash singers performed traditional tribal music. They also explained about what it means to be Chumash and the land that we live on was once owned by their tribe. At 6 P.M, everyone went inside the auditorium and listened to speeches given by students and teachers on the issues concerning racial-ethnic groups in our society. The presenters also shared videos that displayed students openly expressing themselves and talking about their heritage.
Mrs. Powers, English teacher at San Marcos High School, noted on the event.
“It was awesome, we had a great turnout. There was food, cultural performances, and ultimately at the center of it all was the celebration of students and the work that they’d been doing.”
She also explained what is to be the next step for Ethnic Studies in Santa Barbara.
“Our program is growing, more classes, continuing to hire more teachers who have backgrounds in ethnic studies, and right now I think we really have a call to action to respond to all of the anti-black incidents that have been happening in our district.”