Decolonizing the mind through Ethnic Studies: Dr. Marguerite Henrichs visits DVC


Dr. Marguerite Henrichs visited Diablo Valley College on Sept. 18 to discuss the importance of an Ethnic Studies program. (Photo courtesy of DVC).

Jasleen Kaur, Staff member

Dr. Marguerite Hinrichs visited Diablo Valley College on Sept. 6 in the Diablo Room to discuss the importance of an Ethnic Studies program. Hinrichs, a well-known motivational speaker, studies the impact Ethnic Studies has on students, especially those from marginalized communities.

She started out her talk by educating the audience about the main purpose of the ethnic studies course, which is now only being implemented at Diablo Valley College.

It decolonizes the mind by disrupting personal contributions to systematic oppression,” said Hinrichs.

Hinrichs made it clear that contrary to some students’ beliefs, Ethnic studies is less about a particular race, but it is more about systematic oppression.

It is highly impactful for bolstering academic expectations for many students especially from the African American community,” she said.

According to research conducted by her, this program really empowered and motivated (especially Black students) to be more active in school as well as their communities.

 It makes them want to come to school and get involved with their community,” she said.

Hinrichs and her team are trying to implement this course not only in colleges but also within public schools. According to her research, the sooner students take this course, the better.

In 2018, the Oakland Unified School district passed a law which made it mandatory for high schools to include an Ethnic studies elective course in their school curriculum.

The district school board states the course “provides engaging content that supports the identity development of students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds by drawing from their experiences, exposing them to new horizons, and fostering their ability to reflect critically and take action in the community.”

Hinrichs mentioned that the media has a huge impact on how African Americans perceive themselves therefore, this is one of the discussions that take place during class meetings. Some of the students were curious about how this course affects white students.  

“It brings out the issues of the marginalized communities to the students’ attention and forces them to debate about it,” Hinrichs said.

The importance of an Ethnic Studies course in DVC’s curriculum would further make students from the various diverse backgrounds to be proud of who they are and where they come from according to Hinrichs. Thus, students would have more positive feelings about their communities and themselves which are otherwise so distorted by the outside world. 

“There’s something wrong with the system, there’s nothing wrong with us,” said Hinrichs.