Report: Black Women Doctors are Underrepresented in Health Care Sector

By Emil Guillermo

How the nation’s first College of Ethnic studies came about, bringing together Latino, African American and Asian American disciplines may offer some clues as to how to ease the current turmoil on American college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war.

After the deadline passed to end the Columbia University encampment by 2 p.m. Monday, student protesters blockaded and occupied Hamilton Hall in a symbolic move early Tuesday morning.

Protesters did the same in 1968.

That made me think of San Francisco State University, 1968.

The news was filled with call backs to practically every student protest in the past six decades as arrests mounted into hundreds on nearly two dozen campuses around the country.

In 1970, the protests at Kent State were over the Vietnam War. Ohio National Guardsmen came in, opened fire, and killed four students.

Less than two weeks later that year, civil rights activists outside a dormitory at Jackson State were confronted by armed police. Two African American students were killed, twelve injured.

But again, I didn’t hear anyone mention San Francisco State University, 1968.

That protest addressed all the issues of the day and more. The student strike at SFSU was against the Vietnam war.

That final goal was eventually achieved, but there was violence, sparked mostly by “outside agitators,” who were confronted by police.

“People used the term ‘off the pigs’ but it was more rally rhetoric than a call to action (to actually kill police),” said Daniel Phil Gonzales, who was one of the strikers in 1968.

Gonzales, known as the go-to resource among Filipino American scholars for decades, went on to teach at what was the positive outcome of the strike, San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Gonzales recently retired after more than 50 years as professor.

As for today’s protests, Gonzales is dismayed that the students have constantly dealt with charges of antisemitism.

“It stymies conversation and encourages further polarization and the possibility of violent confrontation,” he said. “You’re going to be labeled pro-Hamas or pro-terrorist.”

That’s happening now. But we forget we are dealing not with Hamas proxies. We are dealing with students.

Gonzales said that was a key lesson at SF State’s strike. The main coalition driving the strike was aided by self-policing from inside of the movement. “That’s very difficult to maintain. Once you start this kind of activity, you don’t know who’s going to join,” he said.

Gonzales believes that in the current situation, there is a patch of humanity, common ground, where one can be both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel. He said it’s made difficult if you stand against the belligerent policies of Benjamin Netanyahu. In that case, you’re likely to be labeled antisemitic.

Despite that, Gonzales is in solidarity with the protesters and the people of Gaza, generally. Not Hamas. And he sees how most of the young people protesting are in shock at what he called the “duration of the absolute inhumane kind of persecution and prosecution of the Palestinians carried out by the Israeli government.”

As a survivor of campus protest decades ago, Gonzales offered some advice to the student protesters of 2024.

“You have to have a definable goal, but right now the path to that goal is unclear,” he said.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. A veteran newsman in TV and print, he is a former host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Oakland Post

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