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UCLA Doubles Down On Ethnic Studies Expansion

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Morgan Chu, an attorney, and his wife, Helen, have donated $10 million to create endowed chairs for Asian American, African American, Chicano, and American Indian studies centers at UCLA.

This comes at a time when ethnic studies face political attacks, particularly regarding “critical race theory.”

The Chus emphasized that their gift aims to support diverse perspectives and deepen understanding among people.

“It’s just a way to teach everyone about the richness of the history and background of all cultures,” Chu said.

The donation is seen as a “game changer” by UCLA officials, ensuring the survival of ethnic studies amid fiscal challenges and political opposition.

“UCLA has long been at the forefront of the examination of the histories, cultures, contributions and experiences of different racial and ethnic groups in the United States,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block stated. “The Chus’ investment will allow us to deepen the impact of this essential work.”

The four ethnic studies centers have been at the core of the field since the 1960s, reflecting a legacy of unity and shared struggles for racial equity.

The centers engage in extensive research, community partnerships, and civic work, addressing issues such as mass incarceration and promoting equity for marginalized communities.

“Many of our histories have been erased or marginalized or maligned, leading to stereotypes that allow so much hatred and propaganda to take flight,” Asian American Studies Center director Karen Umemoto said.

“The whole origin of ethnic studies has been a project to allow our voices to be heard … so we can do thoughtful research and tell the stories of our experiences and histories for the world to know.”

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