Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Gender & Feminist Studies
© 2023 Katie E Meitchik
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a theory and practice that focuses on systemic structures, inequities, and social change by examining concepts such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, and religion. Incorporating DEI initiatives into learning spaces can lead to a deeper sense of self, stronger coalition building, increased civic engagement, and a sense of healing, resistance, and belonging. Although a nationwide criteria for using DEI practices in education has not yet been implemented as a key component to public school teaching, there are programs emerging with the intent to utilize the theory. This has led to a movement of bringing Ethnic Studies into the core curriculum for K-12 public schools in the United States. In using DEI as the conceptual framework, courses within the field of Ethnic Studies are the praxis of this theory, and allow for students to engage with and embody the goals stated above. According to the California Department of Education (CDE), Ethnic Studies is “the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity, with an emphasis on the experiences of people of color in the United States...The field also addresses the concept of intersectionality, which recognizes that people have different overlapping identities, for example, a transgender Latina or a Jewish African American” (CDE, 2022). Within ethnic/multicultural education, however, the application often differs from the definition, and the question of which groups are included continues to be debated. While many minority cultural and ethnic groups find themselves at the frays of these conversations, Jewish people's standing, in particular, as a marginalized group is constantly in question. Jewish people are often not acknowledged as a marginalized, minority, or diverse group within trainings, curriculum, and initiatives.
In my research, I discovered that Jewish identity and experience are not consistently included in Ethnic Studies and DEI programming. This led me to question the following: How is this exclusion linked to perceptions of Jewish identity as an invisible—as opposed to a visible—identity? What does this say about the way Jewish identity is situated within ethnic, racial, and gendered categories in the United States? How can Jewish identity be incorporated into Ethnic Studies programs in an intersectional way?
As Ethnic Studies becomes more widely adopted in schools across the nation, Jewish identity must be included in lessons as its own distinct group. Jewish identity is an ethnoreligion, culture, and peoplehood that often intersects with other identifiers. This understanding supports the very definition of which groups should be included in Ethnic Studies as well as contributes to the fundamental benefits to students who are provided with the space to learn and belong. Jewish identity and antisemitism awareness serve as a crucial component to an intersectional approach to DEI goals, and should be required within the practice of Ethnic Studies curriculum.
Meitchik, Katie, "Diversity, Equity, & Exclusion: Examining Jewish Identity & Antisemitism as Missing Pieces of DEI and Ethnic Studies Education" (2023). Pitzer Senior Theses. 179.
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