Statement of Support for the UAW Academic Workers Strike

Statement of Support for the UAW Academic Workers Strike


As faculty in the Department of Ethnic Studies we stand in solidarity with UAW graduate student workers and postdoctoral fellows who are on strike.

We recognize that the university could not fulfill its mission without the labor of its graduate student workers who perform key research, teach classes, grade papers, and provide invaluable support in teaching and mentorship for undergraduate students across the University of California.

Especially given the rapidly rising costs of living around UC communities, graduate student workers deserve a contract that secures a living wage, basic needs, as well as increased job security. We value their demands for a fair contract that is attuned to international workers’ rights and student parents’ rights as well as for greater disability and climate justice.

Ethnic Studies scholars and practitioners are particularly attuned to the critical role that organized labor has played for communities of color to access rights that might otherwise not have been available to them because of their race, gender, language, and/or immigration status. Labor rights have often been the precursor to other kinds of legal rights.

We affirm the right of student workers to engage in lawful strike activity, which may include picketing, cancellation of sections, and stopping grading. We will not engage in retaliation against graduate students based on their participation or non-participation in strike activities in all matters under our direct control, and we oppose unlawful retaliation measures against either striking students or faculty respecting the picket line.

We will respond to undergraduate concerns about the disruption of their education with compassion while affirming the right of graduate students to strike for adequate benefits and compensation. We urge the university to take all measures to protect international students, and we will take all measures in our power to protect our international student workers.

We urge the university to bargain in good faith with the union so that a just and adequate solution may be reached.

We hope that this strike starkly demonstrates to the university administration just how integral graduate student labor is to the UC system.


Edward Chang
Gerald Clarke
Adrián Félix
Alfonso Gonzales Toribio
Emily Hue
Wesley Y. Leonard
Alfredo Mirandé
Keith Miyake
Jennifer Nájera
Andrea Smith
Jasmin A. Young

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Student Award Recipients!

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Student Award Recipients!


Michelle Rawlings & Darielle Martin – Wilmer and Velma Johnson Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Award: Competitive scholarship presented annually to a student who best demonstrates their writing aptitude and familiarity with Ethnic Studies concepts

Madison Garcia – Katherine Saubel Award: Presented annually to the graduating senior who best promotes the preservation of cultural awareness

Bibiana Canales – Barnett Grier Award: Presented annually to the graduating senior who best promotes ethnic awareness

Christopher Valdez – Sister Rosa Marta Zarate Award: Presented annually to the graduating senior Ethnic Studies major in recognition of service to the community

Michelle Rawlings & Katianna Warren – Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Award: Presented annually to the Junior Ethnic Studies major with the highest overall GPA

Manuel Zarate & Bibiana Canales – Sumi Harada Award: Presented annually to the graduating Ethnic Studies joint major with the highest overall GPA

Violetta Price & Alana Pitman -Maurice Jackson Award: Presented annually to the graduating Ethnic Studies major with the highest overall GPA

Naomi Waters – Ernesto Galarza Award: Presented annually to a junior Ethnic Studies major in recognition of service to the community

Spotlight on Prof. Ed Chang’s Research: Uncovering the History of America’s First Koreatown

Spotlight on Prof. Ed Chang’s Research: Uncovering the History of America’s First Koreatown


Jill Cowen at The New York Times highlighted Prof. Ed Chang’s groundbreaking research on Pachappa Camp, the first Koreatown in the U.S., which was located here in Riverside, CA. Excerpt below:

The biggest thing that set Pachappa Camp apart, however, was the fact that it was a distinctly Korean community — the first in the United States, predating the founding of Los Angeles’s Koreatown by the businessman Hi Duk Lee by more than half a century.

And while Ahn [Chang-Ho]’s life and legacy have been deeply studied, extensively documented and honored, his role in founding a Korean community in Riverside was virtually unknown until about five years ago, when Chang stumbled across a 1908 map issued by an insurance company. It had a caption labeling a Korean settlement in Riverside.

“I thought, ‘Korean settlement? In Riverside?’” he said.

Chang said it was known that Ahn spent some time in Riverside. He had seen an image of Ahn picking oranges there. And a 1913 episode known as the Hemet Valley Incident — which involved Korean fruit pickers Chang later determined had come from Riverside — has been widely cited as a pivotal moment for the Korean national identity.

But what Ahn was doing in the Inland Empire for more than five years before he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1913 was a puzzle. That puzzle turned into what Chang described as the most gratifying research of his career.

“People said it’s like destiny,” he said. “I’ve been teaching in Riverside for almost 30 years, and I didn’t know anything about it.”

As it turned out, Pachappa Camp was also a place where Ahn honed many of the democratic ideas that he brought back to Korea, which had been a monarchy and was occupied by Japan.

“I was able to trace the birth of whole democratic institutions to here in Riverside,” Chang said. “I was uncovering all of this and I was so shocked.”

With the help of graduate student interns from Korea who translated documents from older Korean, Chang last month published a book of his findings, “Pachappa Camp: The First Koreatown in the United States.”


Read the article here. Image above: University of Southern California, Korean American Digital Archive

Community Resources on Anti-Asian Violence

Community Resources on Anti-Asian Violence


Community Resources on Anti-Asian Violence, Curated by the UCRFTP Cops Off Campus Collective

This curated list of non-carceral statements, events, reporting, and resources speak to the longstanding and ongoing racialized misogyny, xenophobia, and fear of sex workers that have contributed to the countless acts of individual and state violence targeting Asian femmes, sex workers, elders, and others, and which contextualize the murders of spa workers in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. As we continue to have these important conversations, we hope the following resources provide guidance, analysis, support, and paths toward community-oriented action and collective healing.

Public Events


Reportage and Perspectives

Additional Resources/Reading


Photo above: Demonstrators ake part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence n Los Angeles. Photo : Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

New Report: Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California

New Report: Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California

Announcements Events

A new report from the UC Collaborative to Promote Immigrant and Student Equity (UC PromISE), co-led by Ethnic Studies Prof. Jennifer Nájera, establishes that immigration policy is disrupting the educational experiences and wellbeing not only of undocumented students, but also those students who are citizens from mixed-status families.

Advancing Equity for Undocumented Students and Students from Mixed-Status Families at the University of California features data from a survey of 2,742 UC undergraduate students and compares the experiences of three groups: undocumented immigrant students, U.S. citizen students with undocumented parents, and U.S. citizen students with immigrant parents who are permanent residents or naturalized citizens. Drawing lessons from undocumented student programs at the UC, it identifies areas of improvement that can aid all universities in advancing equity for all students impacted by immigration policies.

Download the full report on the research website:

You are also welcome to join host a virtual panel discussion of the report on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 12pm (PST).

Register here:

Mellon Foundation awards $2.9 million for ‘Latinx Futures,’ co-led by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio

Mellon Foundation awards $2.9 million for ‘Latinx Futures,’ co-led by Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio


Congratulations to Prof. Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, Ethnic Studies, and Prof. Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Hispanic Studies, on securing a $2.9 million grant from the Mellon Foundation for the new initiative, Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities! More details from the UCR news by Sandra Baltazar Martínex:


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $2.9 million grant to UC Riverside — the Foundation’s largest grant yet to the university — meant to support College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences research.

Alfonso Gonzales Toribio, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, and Claudia Holguín Mendoza, assistant professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies; will lead the “Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communities” project under the new Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research, poised to be the first of its kind in Southern California based UC campuses. The center is expected to open February 2021.

Latinx Futures is designed as a unique multidisciplinary research project that will bring together community organizations such as Mayavision, a Guatemalan indigenous rights organization; the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice; San Bernardino Community Service Center, Inc.; the Mira Loma Oral History Project; and other regional labor and social justice organizations. The project will also include collaborative opportunities with researchers from universities across the United States, Mexico, and England.

The Mellon Foundation, that largest funder of the arts and humanities in the United States, awarded more than $72 million to 16 teams across the U.S. for its Just Futures Initiative, including the nearly $3 million grant to UCR. Funding is over a three-year period.

“Through extraordinary collaborative exploration and rigorous humanities-driven inquiry, the Just Futures Initiative will expand our collective understanding of our country’s history,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We are thrilled that the work of these multidisciplinary teams will propose and implement solutions to real social problems, and also mark new milestones in the effort to better capture the contributions of the many different communities that make up the American story.”

Alfonso Gonzales Toribio (UCR)
Alfonso Gonzales Toribio (UCR)

Opening the Latino and Latin American Studies and Research Center at UCR is necessary, Gonzales Toribio said. There are close to 5 million people in the Inland Empire and nearly 50% of that population is Latino.

“Yet, we are marginalized from the institutions of power and our history and experiences in the Inland Empire are virtually absent in the academic literature, in Hollywood, and in the media,” Gonzales Toribio said. “But our dreams, triumphs, and struggles matter. We are launching this project with support from Mellon to better understand our history, social, cultural and political experiences, and to create a more democratic and inclusive future for all in the region.”

Securing the $2.9 million grant is of monumental importance to UCR and to the Latino communities of this region, said Gonzales Toribio, who was born in Tijuana, Mexico and grew up in the working-class community of Mira Loma.

“The time for such a center at one of the nation’s largest Hispanic Serving Institutions is now, and UCR is poised to have one of the first centers of its kind in the UC system,” Gonzales Toribio said.

He noted the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research seeks to study the history, culture, and experiences of Latinos and Latin Americans in general and of Mexicans, Chicanos, and Central Americans that inhabit this region in particular.

The multidisciplinary research projects will be organized into two teams, with support and coordination by the Center.

      • “Latinx Civil Society” will be led by Gonzales Toribio, the center’s director and principal investigator for Latinx Futures. The project focuses on countering racial authoritarianism in the Inland Empire through building humanistic and civil society structures with community partners. It includes national collaborators at UC Merced, UCLA, University of Texas at Austin, University of Southern California, as well as scholars at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana de México, as well as the London School of Economics in London, England.
      • “Inclusive Pedagogies for Critical Sociocultural Linguistic Literacy” will be led by Holguín Mendoza, who serves as the project co-principal investigator. This project will harness the power of the research university to counter the systematic racism directed against Latinx language and knowledge. Aiming to dismantle testing and curricula policies that marginalize Latinx language varieties, this research group works to challenge institutions to inclusively reflect the vibrant plurilingualism of borderlands Latinx communities. The team includes collaborators at California State University East Bay, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Oregon, and Western Illinois University.
Claudia Holguín Mendoza (UCR)
Claudia Holguín Mendoza (UCR)

Latinx Futures will include oral histories, indigenous music and storytelling workshops, community documentary, and the development of ethnic studies curriculums that incorporate insight from some of the leading humanities-based scholars from across the United States and Mexico in partnership with community partners.

Project activities will also include inclusive language and literature workshops with area educators; conferences; visiting scholars, artists and activists; research publications aimed at shifting policy; and robust opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration, student involvement, and community partnerships.

Holguín Mendoza said this multisite project expands on antiracist research methodologies and pedagogical approaches for linguistic justice.

“Our interdisciplinary team engages in research and educational practices that take into account the complexity of human communication and a deep understanding of how language variations are linked to complex racial relations, among other intersectional social elements,” said Holguín Mendoza. “What brings us together as collaborators is a commitment to counteracting sociolinguistic stigmatization and introducing Latinx students to critical approaches that allow them to take control of their academic and intellectual development.”

Latinx Futures will build the center’s infrastructure so it can serve as a home for visiting artists and scholars, a campus hub for students and faculty, and a point of contact for collaborating local groups.

Gonzales Toribio, Holguín Mendoza, and collaborating researchers support other campus entities to promote equity and justice for Black and indigenous peoples, as well as all working class people of color. The center and these project activities have the support of UCR’s vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Mariam Lam; and expand the long-standing community-based research practices conducted by the California Center for Native Nations, known as CCNN, with direct support from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.

The project reinforces the centrality of the humanities and UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, which serves the majority of UCR’s Latinx and first-generation students, Holguín Mendoza said.

UCR offers the first Cahuilla language course in UC system


Native American Studies Ph.D. student, William Madrigal, is leading an historic initiative to offer Cahuilla language as an accredited language series, making UC Riverside the first UC campus to do so. Article from UCR News by Sandra Baltazar Martinez below:

The University of California, Riverside, is the first UC campus to offer Cahuilla language as an accredited language series.

Cahuilla, the language of Southern California Cahuilla Indian Nations, is offered by the Department of Comparative Literature & Languages at UCR. This four-class series includes three lower-division courses and one-upper division class, which satisfy undergraduate foreign language requirements for most of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences majors.

Doctoral student William Madrigal Jr., a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, has been teaching three of the four classes since their inception in winter 2018. The courses are open to all UC students and Cahuilla tribal community members, thanks to concurrent enrollment.

“The interesting thing here is that Cahuilla is not a foreign language because it’s very much local and indigenous to Riverside County,” Madrigal Jr. said. “Students are learning more than just the mechanics of the language. They are learning about a rich and vibrant culture. They are introduced to the Cahuilla culture, philosophy, and worldview.”

Madrigal Jr., 38, who is working toward a doctorate in Native American Studies, is a member of one of the 10 existing Cahuilla sovereign nations. Growing up on the reservation, located in Anza, about 75 miles south of Riverside, he felt an obligation to attend college and help revive a language that had been suppressed — and almost eradicated — by federal government mandates.

Over 150 years ago, the United States federal government dispersed Native Americans into reservations, sending young children to boarding schools where they were forced into assimilation and only allowed to speak English. The practice of stripping Native Americans from their California lands started around 1850, and as early as 1830 in other parts of the country.

The Cahuilla currently reside on 10 different reservations, their total population ranging from 3,000-5,000 people. Before being separated, their population was more than double that amount, Madrigal Jr. said.

Cahuilla elders and leaders held onto their native language and continued to share oral histories, traditions, and culture with the rest of the families and community throughout this trying period.

“Knowing that our origins were special made me proud growing up,” Madrigal Jr. said. “I’m proud of who I am and where I come from.”

Raymond Huaute, a doctoral linguistics student from UC San Diego, teaches UCR’s upper-division Cahuilla literature course. Huaute is Cahuilla and Chumash California Indian.

Creating and funding these courses at UCR became a multiyear process supported by UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, as well as the university’s administration, faculty, graduate students, and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Madrigal Jr. said.

The campus itself sits on land where Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano people once lived and thrived next to the Santa Ana River.

Students in Madrigal Jr.’s three conversational language classes study stories that highlights the Cahuilla way of life, he said.

Madrigal Jr. said the Cahuilla language revitalization movement started roughly 50 years ago, when less than a dozen elders spoke the language daily. Now, because of their efforts, there are hundreds of Cahuilla learners who are working with linguistic and anthropological materials recorded long ago to bring Cahuilla back.

“We’re trying to save the essence of our identity inextricably linked to the Cahuilla culture,” Madrigal Jr. said.


Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar

Marguerite Casey Foundation names Prof. Alisa Bierria as a 2020 Freedom Scholar


The Marguerite Casey Foundation launched a new $3 million initiative, the Freedom Scholars, to support social and economic justice scholarship. Ethnic Studies faculty member, Prof. Alisa Bierria, has been named as one of twelve members of the initiative’s inaugural class. Announcement excerpt below:

The nation’s boldest scholars stand at the forefront of movements for economic and social justice – they are creating the catalytic ideas for transformative change. Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are placing power in the hands of these changemakers through new Freedom Scholars Awards, $250,000 grants that give leaders greater freedom to build a truly representative economy that works for working families and people.

The $3 million Freedom Scholars program is a commitment to scholarship that is rooted in and supports movements led by Black and Indigenous people, migrants, queer and poor people, and People of Color. The awards support scholars who are shifting the balance of power to families and communities that have been historically excluded from the resources and benefits of society. With this award, Marguerite Casey Foundation and Group Health Foundation are recognizing the role that scholars play in cultivating the intellectual infrastructure necessary to nurture movements toward freedom.

Today’s Freedom Scholars work at the forefront of abolitionist, Black, feminist, queer, radical, and anti-colonialist studies and critical fields of research that are often underfunded or ignored. Support for their research, organizing, and academic work is pivotal in this moment when there is a groundswell of support to hold our political and economic leaders accountable.

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20

Ethnic Studies Accomplishments, 2019-20


Download Newsletter!

The UCR Ethnic Studies department has faced a number of challenges this year in addressing COVID-19, meeting student needs in the midst of instability and financial precarity, and the impact of racism on our students brought to light by the mass movement in support of Black Lives. We have issued a statement in support of Graduate Students organizing for a living wage and a statement supporting UCR Undergraduate Students Demands to the UCR Administration. We have also begun our community engagement programs which bring together faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and community members to address the pressing issues of our time.

Despite these challenging times, UCR Ethnic Studies faculty have found creative ways to teach during the campus shut-down. They have also produced path-breaking scholarship while engaged in diverse community organizing projects. Graduate students have won numerous awards this year. They have taken part in a variety of social justice initiatives while pursuing innovative scholarship. UCR Ethnic studies undergraduates have organized a number of successful projects to improve the well-being of the Riverside community and campus life.

Major accomplishments are below. Read the newsletter for our full report!

Image above from the cover of Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, featuring art by Kimberly Robertson and Jenell Navarro, “Postcard from an Otherwise World”

Faculty News

Wesley Leonard and Adrián Félix were promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.

Andrea Smith published Unreconciled: From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism (Duke) and Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism (co-edited with Tiffany Lethabo King and Jenell Navarro, Duke). Otherwise Worlds emerged from the Otherwise Worlds Conference at UCR Riverside.

Jennifer Najera published an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times this Fall, “My Grandpa Was a Dreamer Who Crossed the Rio Grande.” This Spring she was selected as an “Outstanding Faculty Mentor” for the University Honors Program.

Edward Chang was awarded the Order of Civil Merit, Magnolia Medal by the Republic of Korea.

Alisa Bierria published “Battering Court System: A Structural Critique of ‘Failure to Protect'” in The Politicization of Safety: Critical Perspectives on Domestic Violence Responses (co-authored with Colby Lenz, NYU Press).

Emily Hue published “Fifteen Years after Buddha Is Hiding: Gesturing Toward the Future in Critical Refugee Studies” in Women’s Studies Quarterly

Wesley Leonard was awarded a $1 million Mellon Grant to support Indigenous Studies at UC Riverside.

More faculty updates here.

Graduate Student News:

Jennifer Martinez won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award for AY 2019-2020.

Frank Perez and Lawrence Lan were the inaugural recipients of the department’s Edna Bonacich Award for their community engaged research.

Cinthya Martinez was selected for the GRMP next year to further develop her project, “Freedom is a Place: Abolitionist Possibilities in Migrant Women’s Refusals.”

Beth Kopacz won a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women to complete her dissertation, “Molecular Longing: Adopted Koreans and the Navigation of Absence through DNA.”

Jalondra Davis (Ph.D. ’17) was awarded a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC San Diego.

Iris Blake’s publication “The Echo as Decolonial Gesture” will be published in Sound Acts, a special issue of the journal Performance Matters. She will be a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA starting in September.

Ray Pineda’s “Authoritative Voice and Mujerista Mentorship of Dissonant DJs Queering Cumbia Sonidera” will appear in Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.

MT Vallarta’s “Toward a Filipinx Method: Queer of Color Critique and QTGNC Mobilization in Mark Aguhar’s Poetics” will be published with The Velvet Light Trap.

Brian Stephens, “Prissy’s Quittin’ Time: The Black Camp Aesthetics of Kara Walker” appears in Open Cultural Studies.

Undergraduate Student Announcements:

Vivienne Lu won the Wilmer and Velma Johnson Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Award. She also won the Sumi Harada Award for graduating joint major with highest GPA.

Violetta Price and Alana Pitman won the Dosan Ahn Chang-Ho Award for the Junior major with the best GPA.

Christina Canales won the Maurice Jackson award for the graduating major with the highest GPA.

Jazmin Jefferson Faten won the Ernesto Galarza Award in recognition of community service.

Joaquin Malta won the Katherine Saubel award for promotion of cultural awareness.

Kyra Byers and Vivienne Lu won the Barnett Grier Award for promoting ethnic awareness.

Maribel Cruz and Sofia Rivas won the Sister Rosa Marta Zarate Award for community service.

More student updates here.

Ethnic Studies Statement in Solidarity with the UCR Student Demands to Administration Call to Action

Ethnic Studies Statement in Solidarity with the UCR Student Demands to Administration Call to Action


Ethnic Studies, as a field and as a department, was born of struggles against racial violence, settler colonialism and imperialism. It was only institutionalized because of Third-World student-led organizing efforts to hold universities accountable for their histories of exclusion, discrimination, neglect and intellectual erasure. Drawing on generations of radical thinkers, we are committed to centering racial justice in our teaching, research and community engagement. We stand in solidarity with UCR Demands to Administration-Call to Action as well as the international Movement for Black Lives. While the current crisis exposes the violent realities of systemic anti-Black racism in the United States, we recognize that institutions of higher learning have reproduced and legitimized laws, policies and practices of anti-Blackness in society.

We therefore call on UCR administration to not only address the Demands’ specific concerns regarding the current crisis, but also critically confront anti-Black racism in institutional policies, programs, practices, and all aspects of university life. The UCR Ethnic Studies Department has expanded its community engagement focus and is actively working to support existing and new-found grassroots organizations that seek to end anti-Black racism and racist systems of policing, criminalization, and detention. We call on the UCR administration to institute substantive policy changes coupled with sustainable commitments to academic resources to proactively combat systemic racism and support ongoing struggles for a better future for all peoples. This would include defunding UCPD and establishing community-led safety programs.

The Ethnic Studies Department welcomes continued engagement with the student organizations that have created the UCR Demands to Administration in order to build strong collaborative relationships towards eradicating anti-Blackness within our department, university, communities, and in the world, as we amplify Black voices and Black scholarship in all programming. We call on the UCR administration to affirmatively commit greater institutional resources and funds toward these efforts under the guidance of Black students, staff, faculty, and community members. We further call on the UCR administration to adequately fund and support Black Studies by dramatically increasing the number of Ethnic Studies hires in Black Studies with the goal of educating our students and producing knowledge for the world to contribute towards the eradication of anti-Black racism.

*Photo from homepage is a “Black Lives Matter” mural in Palo Alto, CA. Courtesy Benny Villarreal Photography.