Ethnic studies transcend any particular race: Letter to the editor

Re: “Schools in crossfire over ethnic studies” (Page A1, June 10).

I was stunned to read in a recent article that the panel developing the ethnic studies curriculum excluded “European-American ethnic groups.”

By focusing solely on the undeniably horrible experiences of people of color, they miss a fundamental point: Prejudice is not exclusively a matter of skin color. People of all ethnicities have shown prejudice. In the 19th century in America storekeepers put up signs with the abbreviation “NINA” — “No Irish Need Apply.” Quotas were set on several “white” ethnicities, including Slavs and Italians (especially southern Italians). Jews were a particular target of bigotry. And the list goes on.

We need to teach children that these attitudes are not just a matter of color, but a result of the “us versus them” wiring built into our brains, and that we must consciously fight this all-too-human tendency no matter who is the victim — or the bigot.

Stephen McLaughlin

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