By Robert Tambuzi
For decades Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-79th District) has been a steadfast soldier on the battlefield for quality and inclusive education for Black people and other communities of color. Having served as a member and of the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Unified School District, professor and chair of San Diego State’s Africana Studies Department and member of the National Council of Black Studies, Dr. Weber is uniquely qualified to advance the best interest of our youth on every level of their academic journey. She is to be commended for her consistency and good work.
Since the 60’s, Black people and other people of color have fought to “open” up the university and other academic institutions, making them more inclusive and diverse, both in terms of admissions and the teaching of our history, culture and achievements as it relates to our building of this country and our ongoing contributions to its development.
As a step in the struggle for an equitable and inclusive education for all, Dr. Weber has authored AB 1460, which requires all California State University students, in order to graduate, to take at least one three-unit class in one of these four areas: African American Studies, Native American Studies, Asian American Studies and Latino/a Studies.
The governor should sign this bill when it reaches his desk. The bill has the support of both the Assembly and Senate as well as the various CSU Ethnic Studies Councils.
Given the recent civil and social unrest and the ongoing struggle against systemic racism, police killing and other wanton acts of violence perpetrated on Black people and other communities of color, this bill is timely, in that, it will provide a more accurate understanding and appreciation of the various cultures that make up the American cultural tapestry and lay the basis for continuing collaboration for those of us who are fighting for a more equitable and just society.
Please keep in mind that this requirement costs the State nothing, in terms of revenue, but adds immensely to a better understanding of who we are as a country. Keep in mind the minimum requirement is one three-unit Ethnic Studies class within a four-year academic journey which will, without a doubt, include Eurocentric classes.
The CSU system is also a tax-funded, public institution and as such has the responsibility to provide a quality education. We argued today as we did in the 1960’s, that we cannot have quality education unless we include all of us who make up the fabric of this place we call America. AB 1460 is a first step towards institutionalizing an inclusive curriculum in the CSU system. The outcomes of the passage of this legislation will lead to tremendous opportunities for working together to build the better society we all say that we want.
California is the most diverse state in the country, and some say the most progressive. Let us live up to that awesome responsibility. We strongly urge Governor Newsom to sign the bill once it comes to his desk.
Robert Tambuzi is a long-time community and civic activist. He is chairman emeritus of Project New Village, a grassroots non-profit dedicated to the fight for food sovereignty, a member of NAKO (National Association of Kawaida Organizations) and a member of the San Diego NAACP, Political Action Committee.