See Ya!

As finals and graduation approach, I wanted to do a short “goodbye”blog. “Is this really goodbye?!” you say, sobbing onto your laptop/smartphone. Not exactly. While I will no longer be a UIC student, I will still be blogging. It will be with less frequency, but hopefully I’ll still be seeing and doing cool things that make worthy blog posts.

I’m so glad that I became a UIC Radio blogger. After meeting so many great people and having so much fun, I regret not joining sooner. If any of you are looking for a way to get involved on campus next semester, I highly recommend joining.

Have a great summer! And good luck with finals! (Click here for some finals week tips.)

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How I Plan To Make It Through Finals With My GPA And Sanity Intact

It’s that time of year, again! The time when we all question why we even gave this “school” thing a shot. You guessed it, this is our last week of spring semester, and finals week is around the corner.

I’ll be graduating this semester, and I’m finding it harder and harder to concentrate on my final papers and projects. Between classwork, working, graduation stuff, looking for a job after graduation, and trying to have a social life (trying), self-care can fall through the cracks.

I know I’m not alone in this. So, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks on how to have a successful and not so stressful finals week.

1. Get Organized

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One of my major problems this semester has been forgetfulness. I’m constantly forgetting about assignments, only to remember them the day before they are due. Recently, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down everything I need to do for the day. Besides class assignments, my to do lists include errands to run, things to buy…basically anything. For example, the highlights of yesterday’s to do list were: buy poster board, write blog, call mom. One of those didn’t happen. I’m working on it!

2. Sleep

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Seriously, get sleep. Take a nap. Something. If you don’t sleep, you’ll feel horrible and the paper you’ve stayed up all night to write will suffer, too. Last semester, I was so tired/out of it that I walked into moving traffic and a police car honked at me. It’s funny now (kinda) but it was a scary wake up call at the time.

3. Take a Break

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Take a break?! But I have so much to do! I know, and that’s exactly why you need a break. Just like everyone should sleep to let their body recharge, you should take breaks while studying to let your mind relax. Don’t break for too long, though. It’s called a “break”, not a “I’m done being productive for the day” for a reason. The best thing about breaks is that you can do anything but work; get a snack, take a walk, watch YouTube tutorials. Whatever gets your mind off of a PowerPoint presentation for a couple minutes.

4. Drink Water

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Senator Marco Rubio stays hydrated. Do you?

I’m always amazed that so many people don’t like water. Like, why not? Sure, it’s not as glamorous as a drink from Starbucks, but it’s necessary in order to survive. Cool, huh? But for real, drink water people. It’s good for you, and the last thing you need during finals week is dehydration. If the crisp taste of water is too bland for your delicate palette, then get some of those water flavor enhancers. Do what you gotta do.

5. Talk It Out

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Whenever finals week rolls around, I find myself thinking that no one else is as stressed or anxious as I am. Obviously, this isn’t true, but the thought still creeps into my mind. Talking to my roommates and college friends quickly puts everything into perspective. Sometimes, it feels so good to complain and whine about all the things I have to do, and the other person has the exact same issue. I mean, I still have work to do afterwards, but it doesn’t seem so daunting. Even if this is something you already do, I can’t recommend it enough.

Those are my tips. Good luck, everyone!

I Went To The Student Research Forum

And it was so cool! In case you missed it, the UIC Student Research Forum was on April 12th, in the UIC Forum. Students at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level were selected to present their work. The event started with poster viewing, the most important viewers being the three judges assigned to each student. UIC alumni and faculty served as judges for the day.

Not only did I attend the forum, I presented my research, too. I’ve been working on my Honors College capstone since the beginning of senior year, and the forum gave me an opportunity to share my research.

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My poster and I at the UIC Student Research Forum 

The title of my presentation and paper is “Addicts, Dealers and Hood Dramas: The Representation of Black Americans and Drug Crime in Film.” I watched numerous films, but settled on New Jack City and Menace II Society, two films made in the 1990s about crime and everyday life in the inner city. I found that Hollywood tends to rely on a set narrative in order to portray black citizens involved in drug crime, and that it greatly differs from the representation of white drug crime.

Afterwards, a reception was held to feed all the hard working (and hungry) students. Finally, awards were given out at the end. While I did not win an award, the students that did all had wonderful and interesting research projects. I wasn’t able to see all of the posters at the forum, but I was impressed by what I did see. I am considering coming back next year to serve as a judge, so I can witness all of the intelligence and potential UIC students have to offer.

Is It Summer, Yet? I Wanna Buy Clothes.

I love Chicago, but the weather can be such a drag. It’s April, why is it still snowing?! Winter lasts forever, and summer is always too short. I love cozy sweaters as much as the next gal, but I’m ready to pull out my tank tops and shorts. This combination of impatience and procrastination leads to a lot of online pre-season shopping. By “pre-season” shopping, I mean I fill my online cart with clothes I want (but can’t necessarily afford) and wait until the weather gets warmer to purchase them.

So, I thought I’d share some of my summer clothing musings. I like and follow certain trends, but sometimes I stick with classics. I have a budget to keep in mind, but a girl can dream, right? So some items I list might be out of the average college student’s price range. But if this was a super realistic post, it would consist of Goodwill rack pics and clothes of Forever 21 quality and price. Here goes!

Sandals 

I know it’s summertime when my toes are pedicured and free from socks and boots. Since sandals require less material to make, I think it’s easier to get away with loud/colorful designs and patterns. However, having a simple, versatile pair is essential.

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Pull&Bear Block Wedges With Crossover Straps, $51.00

I love this pair, because they could be dressed up or down, depending on the outfit. The platform heel does the trick. They also come in a white/metallic combo, if you like your footwear flashy.

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Flat Shoes With Metal Heel Detail, $29.90

In theory, I like sliders and backless shoes. In practice, I can’t wear them without stumbling all over the place. But in a perfect world, I would purchase these. The clean design and metallic details won me over. Plus, how often can I afford items from Zara at full price? (Never.)

Dresses

I’ve always had a weird relationship with dresses. The word “dress” conjures up two images: a girly, conservative garment, or a way-too-short body con number. So when I do wear dresses, I gravitate toward loose, casual styles.

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Women Long Bra Top Dress, $39.90

This black number from Uniqlo is basically a long t-shirt, so it’s right in my comfort zone. I’m not sure how effective the “bra-top” is, considering that wearing a size small doesn’t mean you have a small bust, but I’m willing to try it out.

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Ribbed Dress with Lacing, $24.99

Yes, I’ve fallen down the 70s rabbit hole that the fashion industry has decided to bring back. I resisted for some time, but the lacing detail and circle zippers pulled me in. I could do without those boots, though. It’s 2016.

Sunnies

I actually hate when fashion mags use the term “sunnies”instead of sunglasses, but it looks nicer than the latter when typed out.

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Women’s Round Tortoise Sunglasses-Brown, $14.99

Anyway, I prefer circular frames, and you can never go wrong with the tortoise design. The pair of sunnies I have now are very similar to these, but are scratched up and worn out, so these might replace those.

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Downing Striped Indigo, starting at $95

The stripes give this pair a cool water-effect, without being too out there. They’re pricey, but are also anti-scratch and can be made with the prescription for your regular glasses. So the price is worth it, right?

Swimsuits

Who doesn’t love a fun, well-fitting swimsuit?

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Aerie Hi Neck Crop Bikini Top, $34.95; Aerie String Bikini Bottoms, $24.95

I love the crop top/halter top bikini trend. It’s a nice change from the triangle bikini, and it gives the suit an athletic feel. I especially like the tye-dye print of this swimsuit.

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Billabong Cut Out Side Swimsuit, $92

One-piece swimsuits get a bad wrap for being boring or too conservative. That doesn’t apply here, thanks to the tropical print and interesting cut outs. Honestly, I wouldn’t pay $92 for it, but maybe you would! (No you wouldn’t, but it’s cute)

Those are some of my summer-approved items! Can’t wait until I can actually wear them.

Here’s Some Stuff You Might Not Know About Hawaii

Every summer, my dad and I take a trip to a state neither of us have previously visited. Since I’m graduating this semester, we decided that the trip should be somewhere extra special and cool. Hawaii is the obvious choice.

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Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

When we plan these trips, I obsessively research the state and/or city. I want to know everything about it, from the state bird to what the locals do for fun (FYI Hawaii’s state bird is the Nene). So this semester I’ve been reading up on “The Aloha State” when taking a break (procrastinating) from studying. Here’s some cool stuff I learned:

  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state with a non-white racial majorityAsian Americans are roughly thirty percent of the population, followed by whites at twenty-four percent and people of two or more races at twenty-three percent. Many Asian ethnic groups have influenced the culture, food and traditions of the islands, especially the Japanese, Filipino, Korean and Chinese.
  • The Kanaka Maoli are the indigenous people of Hawaii. They comprise about ten percent of the population, and are the descendants of the original Polynesian settlers. Hawaii and the Kanaka Maoli have a long and fascinating history that began long before it became a state. Some of the Kanaka Maoli culture has been repressed or lost due to colonization, but in recent decades the culture has seen a revival. The most notable aspect of this revival has been the teaching of ancient Hawaiian history and the Hawaiian language in schools.
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Kanaka Maoli flag
  • Hawaiian residents don’t do much traveling between the islands. Before researching Hawaii, I was under the impression that inter island traveling was inevitable and popular. It turns out the only way to visit friends on the next island over is by plane, with flights ranging from half an hour to fifty minutes. It’s quite common for residents to spend their entire lives on one island. Having said this, I probably won’t get to visit more than one island on our trip. I’m a little disappointed, since that means I have to choose between learning to surf on Waikiki beach, or watching lava spurt out of the most active volcano on Earth.
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Kilauea volcano on the Big Island 

 

  • People wear Hawaiian shirts. No, really. Mainlanders might think of these shirts as a tacky, touristy choice of clothing, but they are a part of everyday life in Hawaii. Hawaiian shirts (or Aloha shirts, as residents call them) are the result of the combination of fabrics and styles from cultural clothing worn by Hawaiian immigrants. They are so popular that workplaces implement Aloha Fridays, were businessmen and women can were Aloha clothing. This casual and comfortable approach to clothing doesn’t stop at shirts; flips flops (or slippers) are considered acceptable footwear almost anywhere, including upscale restaurants.

 

 

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A men’s Aloha shirt

When people visit Hawaii, they go for the beaches and palm trees. I mean, that’s why I’m going, too. However, there are so many interesting aspects of Hawaiian life and culture that are worth exploring. This summer, I plan to do just that.

And, Action!:My First Film Set Experience

I started my Spring Break earlier than usual. I didn’t attend class Friday (it was cancelled, so technically I wasn’t skipping), and instead spent two days on the film set for a short film. No, you won’t be seeing my lovely face on your tv screen anytime soon, because I was a production assistant intern. Lately I’ve been seriously considering pursuing a career in film or television, and this internship gave me the experience I’ve been looking for.

This weekend long film shoot started on Friday with a call time of 7:30am. I was relieved to find out I wasn’t the only newbie on set, and bonded over this with the makeup artist and cinematographer. As a production assistant, I helped out wherever I was needed: I set up meals for the crew, handled contracts, worked the movie slate, and whatever else the crew or actors needed.

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Me + movie slate = dream fulfilled

After shooting, I got the opportunity to visit Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The son of the Director of Production is an actor, and he had a wardrobe fitting for an upcoming pilot. I tagged along, and I can’t even express how pumped I was to finally visit Cinespace! Hit shows like Empire, Chicago Fire, and Chicago PD shoot at Cinespace, and it was exciting to be in such a high energy environment.

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Exterior of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, courtesy of their website

The next day of filming was more low-key, so I was able to do things I couldn’t do the day before. I helped set up cameras and lights, and learned a few things about the equipment. I even worked the fog machine, which I didn’t realize I wanted to do until that moment.

I’m so grateful for this production assistant opportunity. While it was a brief internship, it solidified my desire to work in the tv/film business. This won’t be my last time on a film set!

 

#CoolTeens: Four Famous Young Women You Should Know

The other day, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I realized that I follow so many amazing people. Some are famous and some are not, but they are all people who have done interesting things and have even more interesting things to say. I also realized that the people I’m most impressed by are women my age or younger.

Younger generations tend to be labeled as vapid, narcissistic complainers, who are unwilling to work hard at anything besides taking a great selfie. This stereotype is proven wrong everyday, in real life and online. The #coolteens of today aren’t just beautiful and charming, they are intelligent and passionate about their interests. I’m not a teen anymore (no complaints) but if I could go back in time, I would be like these girls.

Amandla Stenberg

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Most of you will recognize Amandla from her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, but she’s been keeping busy since then. She’s had a number of tv show cameos and stars in As You Arewhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The seventeen year old uses social media to address representation and inequality inside and outside of Hollywood. Her class assignment entitled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” added to and in some ways sparked the current conversation on cultural appropriation. Later, Amandla’s  criticism of Kylie Jenner’s cornrows brought a wave of internet hate, which Amandla handled with grace.

On top of acting, social activism, comic book writing and charity work, Amandla will be attending NYU in the fall. She will be studying film, in the hopes of becoming a director. She wants to create roles for underrepresented groups, and increase the diversity Hollywood so desperately needs.

Rowan Blanchard

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Rowan for i-D Vice. Taken by Harry Eelman

Rowan stars as Riley on the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World. She has also spoken at the UN Women’s Conference on feminism and gender inequality. By the way, she’s fourteen.

Like her friend Amandla, Rowan uses social media and her power as a celebrity to discuss these topics. The actress’s essay on intersectional feminism was the first thing I ever heard about her, and I was blown away by the intelligence of a young woman that isn’t even old enough to drive. I look forward to hearing more about the amazing things Rowan does in the future.

Zendaya

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Zendaya at the 87th Annual Academy Awards (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)

Another Disney star, Zendaya gained popularity as Rocky on the Disney Channel original Shake It Up. Currently, she’s still a Disney actress on the show KC Undercover, but has also ventured into music.

However, Zendaya became known by adults and tweens alike when Giuliana Rancic made rude and ignorant comments about her hairstyle at the Academy Awards. Zendaya responded firmly but respectfully, and hey, she even got her own Barbie doll out of this controversy. Now, nineteen year old Zendaya and her fans (including myself) have moved on from this, focusing on her upcoming album and incredible fashion sense. Like Rowan and Amandla, Zendaya wants to be a role model for young girls, and uses her social media presence to teach and inspire.

Tavi Gevinson

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Tavi Gevinson at the Guess Portrait Studio (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

This Oak Park, Illinois native created the fashion blog Style Rookie at the age of 11, which was perused by fashion icons such as Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. Since then, Tavi has been invited to New York and Paris Fashion Week, penned articles for Barneys.com and Harper’s Bazaar and served as the model/muse for Rodarte.

At fifteen, Tavi turned Style Rookie into Rookiean online magazine directed towards teen girls. The subject matter has also expanded to include not only fashion, but pop culture and social issues, as well. Tavi has given talks at TED and TEDxTeen conferences about marketing and representation, respectively. Forbes included her in its 30 Under 30 in Media list, and Tavi has even had roles in film and theater.

Her success is not without criticism. Many believed that there was no way Tavi could run a popular blog at such a young age, stating that her parents helped or wrote her posts for her. Some fashion bloggers and icons didn’t approve of her appearances at events, suggesting that someone her age should be at school and not runway shows. Tavi has heard the negative comments, but has not allowed that to cloud her vision. She continues to shatter expectations and achieve goals, and I know she will continue to do so.

New Music: Reflections in Real Time

This past Monday, artist Kilo Kish released her debut album Reflections in Real Time. I’ve been listening to the album nonstop, so I thought I’d share my opinions on it. But first, some background.

Kilo Kish (aka Lakisha Robinson) doesn’t have the musical experience that might expect. She attended Pratt Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, ultimately graduating with a degree in textile design. While working, modeling and attending school, Kilo was featured on songs made by her roommates, which led to her introduction and friendship with Matt Martians. Matt is a member of the soul group The Internet, and he helped Kilo create her first EP Homeschool. 

Since then, she’s made another EP and mixtape, titled Across and K+ respectively. Both of them, along with Homeschool, are available on Kilo’s SoundCloud. Her many famous friends are featured in these earlier works, including Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Ferg, Vince Staples…the list goes on. All of this has led to the creation of Reflections in Real Time, an hour long look into what’s been on Kilo’s mind lately.

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RRT album cover by Emmanuel Olunkwa

While listening to Reflections in Real Time, it’s obvious that Kilo has come a long way from her first EP. She sings on most of the songs, which is notable since Kilo initially gained popularity for talking over beats. The production quality is excellent, which was done mostly by her musician bf RRREYMUNDO. The album revolves around important, abstract themes like identity, agency and our true purpose in life.

Reflections in Real Time has a theatrical feel, especially on tracks like “Hello, Lakisha”and “Existential Crisis Hour!”. The first gives listeners a brief history of her name, while the latter is a look into the hectic inner workings of Kilo’s mind. These are two of my favorite tracks, along with “Collected Views from Dinner” and “Frustrations + Solutions”.

Kilo isn’t afraid to share her thoughts and feelings, no matter how jumbled and raw. She manages to present them in ways that aren’t too serious, but also not vapid. In the past, Kilo has rejected the label of “musician”, due to her interest in many forms of art. After listening to RRT, I don’t think she can evade that label any longer, and it’s rightly deserved.

If you are looking for something new to listen to, I highly recommend Reflections in Real Time. You can find it on iTunesSpotify and GooglePlay. Happy listening!

 

Color and Fros: Ashish at London Fashion Week

I’ve been getting more and more into fashion lately. I mean, I’ve always liked clothes and shopping, but now I’ve taken an interest in designers and high fashion. Luckily, we are in the mist of Fashion Week season, so there’s an abundance of clothes to see and articles to read. New York Fashion Week has passed, and I liked some of the collections, runway productions and presentations. But in my opinion, London Fashion Week took the cake.

Iconic brands like Alexander McQueen and Burberry presented long-awaited fall/winter collections, but my favorite was Ashish. Created by Indian designer Ashish Gupta, Ashish is known for its craftsmanship, sequins and mixing of clothing types. This time around, the designer opted for vibrant color-coordinated outfits with sequins and sparkles galore.

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Model wearing Ashish at LFW

The wigs take the runway show to another level. Catwalks tend to be sullen and serious, with emphasis on hard angles and harsh lighting. Ashish does the opposite, and even the models can’t help but crack smiles while balancing the cotton candy clouds on their heads.

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Runway model wearing Ashish at LFW

To see all of the looks, watch the full runway video below.

If you like these pieces, you’ll probably enjoy his previous collections, as well. Ashish made my favorite spring/summer 2016 collection, complete with hair confetti and models on skateboards. You can check out past Ashish collections here.

Why Ethnic Studies Matters

Northern Arizona University defines ethnic studies as “the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity, as understood through the perspectives of major underrepresented racial groups in the United States.” Most universities across the nation (including UIC) have ethnic studies programs. These programs provide a more comprehensive understanding of  our history, by including the parts deemed unimportant by mainstream textbooks.

This past week, I gave a presentation in my Racialization of Latinos course about ethnic studies. My main points were: 1. to explain why these programs are important and 2. the backlash these programs have endured since they were created. To make these points, I used a class reading and video clips.

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Save Ethnic Studies by Julio Salgado 

The article “A Social Justice Approach to Achievement” by Julio Cammarota describes the implementation of an experimental social science curriculum at Cerro High School in Tucson, Arizona. This curriculum, called the Social Justice Education Project (SJEP), was created to demonstrate that “at-risk” youth should be motivated and challenged in order to improve.

He uses theories by Foucault, Sanchez and other social scientists to condemn standardized testing, and explain how pressure on students and schools to perform well impacts curriculums. The students chosen for the SJEP were Latino, working-class and considered to be at risk. Instead of rote learning, these students were given college level assignments and completed research projects.

By the end of the program, all of the students involved graduated or were on track to graduate. Students reported new feelings of empowerment, knowledge and confidence to graduate and apply for college. Considering that many of them were considering dropping out, this is an amazing turnaround. Cammarota explains that since the program focused on issues pertinent to the Latino community, students were more motivated to learn and perform well.

These same sentiments were expressed by Ron Espiritu, a high school ethnic studies teacher in South Los Angeles. In a Tedx Talks video, Espiritu shares his personal experiences with a lack of minority-focused education, and how his teaching has impacted  black and Latino students.

Even though teachers and students support ethnic studies, these programs have faced opposition since their inception. Some have even been banned because of the negative response from school boards, parents and the general public. Many reasons are given for why ethnic studies should not be permitted, the most common and notable being that it is un-American, divisive and fosters resentment of whites.

An episode of the Daily Show touches on this by covering the Mexican-American studies ban in Tucson. It perfectly highlights the mindset of people against ethnic studies: they don’t know or care about these programs, but that doesn’t stop them from discontinuing a program that has such positive effects on white and minority students. The school board member has never attended a Mexican-American studies class, and yet he dislikes it enough to vote against it.

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Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies. Boston: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon, 1975. Second Edition, 1979; Third Edition, 1984; Fourth Edition, 1987, Fifth Edition, 1991, Sixth Edition, 1997. Seventh Edition, 2003. Eighth Edition, 2009. 

Personally, I believe that ethnic studies should be not only in colleges, but in high schools and grammar schools, as well. As of right now, ethnic studies are presented as a choice: as a college student, I can choose to take (or not take) an African American studies course. Which means, I can potentially go through my entire college career without learning any black history beyond MLK and Harriet Tubman. This doesn’t seem right to me.

History, especially U.S. history, should not be optional for U.S. students. Any educated citizen should have a complete understanding of our history, the good and the bad. Learning history from a Native American or Asian American perspective is not “un-American” or “divisive”, it is honest. Hopefully, we as a nation will reach a point when ethnic studies is given the importance that it deserves at all levels of the educational system.