Ethnic Studies
Ethnic Studies at Delta: Striving for a better world
Sam Allen
August 22, 2022

In a step toward increasing the understanding of the diversity of San Joaquin County, Delta College is excited to announce that Ethnic Studies courses are available this Fall Semester for the first time since the 1970s.

This enriching field empowers students to learn from the experiences of people of color and to work together for a better, more equitable, world.

Under a new state law, students who begin their Delta journey in Fall 2022 will be required to complete one course in Ethnic Studies in order to earn an Associate Degree or to transfer to a California State University.

The courses that students can choose from are:

  • Introduction to Chicana/o (ETHNS 34 - sections 71920-71925)
  • Introduction to Black/African American Studies (ETHNS 35 - sections 71915-71918)
  • Introduction to Asian American Studies (ETHNS 36 - sections 71927-71932)Malika Hollinside
  • Introduction to Native American Studies (Coming Soon!)

Dr. Malika Hollinside was hired in Fall 2021 to develop the Ethnic Studies curriculum. She is enthusiastic about the opportunity to give students a chance to focus on the lived experiences of communities of color through in-depth study and community outreach projects.

“A lot of people are attracted to these courses because it’s a reflection, an affirmation of culture and history. It’s culturally empowering and engaging, and it’s a college requirement,” says Dr. Hollinside. 

To learn more about this new – and growing – part of the Delta experience, please visit and see our Questions and Answers below.

What is Ethnic Studies?

From its beginnings in the 1970s, Ethnic Studies has focused on the lived experiences of Black/African American, Chicana/o, Native American, and Asian American people in the United States. Ethnic Studies also dives deeper to investigate those experiences – how they overlap and inform individuals’ and communities’ interactions with one another and society.

Delta is including the same ethnic groups in its introductory courses as the California State University system, creating a seamless strand that will allow students to explore these areas more deeply at a CSU if they choose.

Additionally, course materials are selected to engage students with a wide variety of identities. “I have found that students find resonance as women, as LGBTQ+/queer individuals, and as people belonging to other identities in the course of their Ethnic Studies classes. This is because the patterns of experience overlap and intersect,” says Dr. Hollinside. 

“We’re excited to excite and empower students and the community to make changes. Ethnic Studies has a leadership and activist edge to it.”

The core of Ethnic Studies, says Dr. Hollinside, is to “teach through the lens of individuals who reflect the course content and the lived experience of the content that they’re teaching. Students will see and hear from people that look like them, that reflect their experiences. That impacts students in powerful ways. It changed my life.”

What about community engagement?

Because the focus of Ethnic Studies is on the lived experience of community members, Delta’s Ethnic Studies curriculum will offer projects that students will be able to complete while enrolled. These projects can include:

  • Oral history interviews;
  • Storytelling; and
  • Projects aimed at helping the community to organize solutions to problems in the community that might have been overlooked.

“We want to create and empower individuals to make changes in these and other communities as advocates,” says Dr. Hollinside.  

This applied learning will draw on individual student strengths and interests. 

Similarly, the curriculum itself will include the voices of artists, activists, scholars, and working people from the four core communities.

What about students who are skeptical about Ethnic Studies?

“A major goal of Ethnic Studies is to promote an understanding of the history and the people we share our communities with, without polarizing, without excluding, without ostracizing individuals,” says Dr. Hollinside. “This is not about blame. This is not about guilt.

“Instead, this is about a representation of historically marginalized peoples and cultures in beautiful and powerful ways. It’s about building bridges and forming new understandings."

In other words, the goal of Ethnic Studies is to heal, not harm, communities of color and American society. 

Ethnic Studies is not about returning the hurt that has been directed at marginalized communities, she says. Instead, it is about making things better for everyone.

“We do engage in critical conversations about the harsh realities of racism, systemic oppression, and colonization, and how they continue to impact people of color in this country. The goal is to unify; the goal is to create bridges and to help us identify how we intersect in common.”

Expectations and outcomes of Ethnic Studies courses

Those interested in learning more about the learning objectives within Ethnic Studies at Delta can visit

Students who take these courses will be able to: 

  • Articulate concepts such as race and racism;
  • Apply theory and knowledge to analyze critical events and contributions of members of the groups;
  • Critically analyze the intersections of race and racism as they relate to the systemic oppression of the four core ethnic groups and to other marginalized identities;
  • Critically review how struggle, resistance, and social justice are relevant to current issues; and
  • Actively engage with social movements to build a just and equitable society.

Because of how the courses have been created, students will feel much better prepared to work within diverse work groups. “They will have a deeper understanding of the struggles and successes of the four core groups, as well a deeper history of racism and resistance in America,” says Dr. Hollinside.

Students will be expected to express their voices, develop their worldviews, and to communicate with each other.

Final thoughts on Ethnic Studies

“We can cure racism if these classes are taught early enough," says Dr. Hollinside. "They have the potential to heal society, to heal some of the ills that we are experiencing right now as a nation. It requires an open mind, but ultimately, we have the potential.

"We are the discipline with the potential to heal the ills of society.”

To learn more about Ethnic Studies at Delta, contact Dr. Malika Hollinside at