Coalition for Liberated Ethnic Studies

Established 2021


Working collectively with grassroots movements, the Coalition for Liberated Ethnic Studies (CLES) lifts up principles, policies, practices, and pedagogies that center–the knowledge, narratives, experiences, and wellness of–Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) communities so that liberation of all peoples and relations are realized.


As a coalition, we are committed to:

  1. Creating a national grassroots organizing network with a sustainable infrastructure that practices consensus-based decision making and strategizes by prioritizing the struggles and victories for Ethnic Studies in local communities.
  2. Establishing an intergenerational model of organizing for Ethnic Studies that centers youth participation, activism, and leadership.
  3. Developing and supporting a national platform and a strategy for the communication and dissemination of a unified message related to Ethnic Studies, including a solidarity network and organizing strategy for rapid response to dehumanizing actions and pushback from zionism and right-wing zealots.
  4. Developing, supporting, and promoting local, state, and national legislation and policy for liberatory and authentic Ethnic Studies.
  5. Maintaining a clearinghouse for research and information on Ethnic Studies, Pre-K through college.
  • Drawing from the original Ethnic Studies worldview rooted in the Third World Liberation Front’s Movement in the late 1960’s, we value the following:
    • Self-Determination
    • Community Actualization
    • Critical Consciousness
    • Solidarity, Unity, & Empathy
    • Wellness & Wholeness
    • Hope, Love, & Respect
    • Humanization, Freedom, & Liberation
    • All Relations 
  • The purpose of Ethnic Studies is to eliminate racism and intersectional forms of oppression. This purpose must be upheld both in and outside of the classroom.
  • Courses titled “Ethnic Studies” are rooted in the LES Guiding Principles (see below).
  • Courses titled “Ethnic Studies” focus on the four core areas developed by the originators of Ethnic Studies: Native American/American Indian Studies, African American/Black Studies, Xicanx/Latinx Studies, and Asian American/Pacific Islander Studies including Palestine and Arab American Studies.
  • All students have the opportunity to experience anti-racist, decolonial and liberatory Ethnic Studies curriculum during their PreK-12 education.
  • Educators have the responsibility and legal right to freely teach liberatory Ethnic Studies that includes first person narratives, social movements, and cultures of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. This includes the freedom to teach Critical Race Theory.
  • Educators are given the support, opportunities, and development needed to teach Ethnic Studies that is responsive to students’ needs, context, and identities.
  • Teachers, schools, and school districts understand the importance of authentic Ethnic Studies, and have sufficient support to withstand attacks from Zionist and other right-wing forces and liberalism, including attacks on Critical Race Theory, which is central to Ethnic Studies as a discipline.
  • Local, regional, and national structures and leadership are built and nurtured so that educators, parents, families, students, and community members can organize to advance, protect, and sustain authentic Ethnic Studies in their communities.
  • Educational institutions do not use the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-semitism or any other definitions that equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.


The Seven C’s:

  • Cultivate empathy, community actualization, cultural perpetuity, self-worth, self-determination, and the holistic well-being of all participants, especially Black and Native People/s, along with all people of color; 
  • Celebrate and honor Native People/s of the land and communities of color by providing a space to share their stories of struggle and resistance, along with their intellectual and cultural wealth; 
  • Center and place a high value on pre-colonial, ancestral, indigenous, diasporic, familial, and marginalized knowledge; 
  • Critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cis heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society; 
  • Challenge imperialist/colonial hegemonic beliefs and practices on the ideological, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels; 
  • Connect ourselves to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels to ensure a truer democracy; and 
  • Conceptualize, imagine, and build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes solidarity and collective narratives of​ ​transformative resistance, critical hope, and radical healing.

Coalition Structure

The coalition is composed of organizations and individuals engaged in work nationally regionally and/or locally around Ethnic Studies, Black Lives Matter in Schools, Indigenous Studies and anti-racist, decolonial K-12 education.

If you ain’t got principles, then you ain’t got nothing.

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