Schoolyear 2022-2023 is upon us, and we’re excited to begin it with you! I was just saying a version of this greeting to my ten-year-old grandnephew who is similarly embarking on a return to school. And as soon as he facially responded with what looked like a combination of dread and hesitation, I said to him, why don’t we just give it a try and embrace what’s up ahead? Doing so will, at the very least, take us a step forward into facing our negative energies head on.
For starters, AES is celebrating the 55th anniversary of its founding this year! Well, technically, we were yet to be established as a department at that time, but it was in 1968 when the advocacies of the Black Students Union (BSU) to transform the university into an institution that is accountable and connected to the communities it serves victoriously resulted in the creation of the Black Studies program and later, the Chicano, Asian American, and American Indian Studies programs. African American, Asian American, and Chicano Studies would be coalesced into a Department of American Ethnic Studies in 1985. So, in observation and recognition of our histories of struggle and resistance – the fact that we were borne out of student activism, community service, and the quest for social justice – we have a lined up a series of events that will last the entire year.
First off, we are co-organizing the “Celebration to Remember Alfredo Arreguín, ’67, ’69,” the renowned painter who passed away last spring. Arreguín was not only a beloved colleague whose work has been chronicled and featured in Prof. Lauro Flores' writings, he was also a great supporter of our university’s efforts to promote the values of social justice, equal opportunity, and cultural heritage. This celebration of his art and life will be held at the HUB Lyceum on Sunday, October 15th, at 2 pm.
The Arreguín event will be preceded by a book talk featuring local author, and American Book awardee, Peter Bacho, on his new work entitled Uncle Rico’s Encore. After this are forthcoming events that will provide us opportunities to connect, learn about, and participate in, such as the screening of the documentary Crossings (about women activists who crossed the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to call for an end to the ongoing Korean peninsula war); the book launch of Prof. LaShawnDa Pittman’s Grandmothering While Black: A Twenty-First Century Story of Love, Coercion, and Survival; the premiere of Gum Saan to Golden Spike, a comic novella prequel to In A Yellow Tone and part of the Passage Through Seattle Trilogy, co-sponsored by AES and Wing Luke Museum; a celebration of civil rights activist Elmer Dixon’s memoir entitled Die Standing: From Black Panther Revolutionary to Global Diversity Consultant. I’m barely scratching the surface here, so do watch for further details about these events, and more information on what’s coming up for the rest of the year.
AES has an ongoing search for a new professor in Chicano/a/x/Latino/a/x Studies, and a new administrative assistant, so we are excited to begin the process of considering all the applicants for these soon. And we are so looking forward to launching our new graduate program in American Ethnic Studies sometime in the very near future, so do stay in touch as I will make key announcements about this as the year progresses.
AES is not only a place to build a career, as our graduate alumni such as Tianna Mae Andresen, Priya Frank, Tony Nabors, and Paulo Pontemayor can testify; it is equally a place where you can engage with faculty and staff, and students as well as community members who come from multiple and intersecting fields and interests. Staying true to our history and original formation, we are here to pursue the enrichment of our lives, find meaning in what we do, and transform the world into a better place for all of us who care for it, just like what the BSU students and their allies attempted to, and successfully did, in 1968.
Professor and Chair