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Ethnic Studies

A guide to support MJC students doing work in Ethnic Studies courses

Stella Beratlis, Research Librarian

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Stella Beratlis
Need help now? We have Research Drop-In Hours Monday - Thursday during Summer 2024: Go to the Ask a Librarian page to get immediate help.

In the Summer, Research Help is available in-person (at East Campus L & LC only) and online from 10 am - 3 pm, Monday though Thursday.

MJC (thus the L & LCs as well) is closed Fri-Sun. during summer semester.
Website Skype Contact: beratliss

banner: ethic studies against background of photo by Melissa Minton

background photo Melissa Minton, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This guide is designed to help you start your Ethnic Studies research.  Use the tabs to navigate this guide, and be sure to scroll down to see the content on each page.

Please feel free to connect with a librarian if you have additional research questions, would like to set up an appointment, or have other sources to include in the guide.

Beginning Your Research

When you begin any research project, you'll want to start by doing a little background or preliminary reading. Doing so will help you:

  • Understand the scope of your topic--is it too broad or too narrow?
  • Understand how your topic is broken down into sub-topics.
  • Identify concepts or themes relevant to your topic.
  • Identify important terms and vocabulary that can be used in further searching.

Take a look at these sources for background reading available at MJC.

Databases for Finding Background Reading

You can find many more articles and books to use for background reading using MJC Library databases like these below:

Research: Keywords and Subject Headings

When searching for articles or books in our online catalog or databases, the best research method is using KEYWORDS.

Conducting research on any ethnic group you must consider the range of labels we use to identify ourselves and others.

  • Chicano/Chicana/Chicanx; Latino/Latina/Latinx; Mexican American can be used but also consider Hispanic. 
  • For other Latino groups use the specific Latino population like Puerto Rican, Cubans, Dominican Republic, etc.
  • Black and African American and remember historically used terms as necessary.
  • BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color)
  • Asian American & Pacific Islander - Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, etc.
  • Native American - Hopi, Cherokee, Navajo, etc. 
  • remember to review the subject identifiers for possible keywords in your book and article searching.

Effective library database searches use the best keywords and subject headings for the topic at hand. For topics related to race and ethnicity, it may be necessary to think about how a population has been described in the past in order to come up with a complete list of effective search terms.

Here are some examples:

Ethnicity and Race in General

  • antiracism
  • antisemitism
  • ethnic groups
  • ethnic relations
  • ethnicity
  • Islamophobia
  • minorities
  • people of color
  • race
  • race discrimination
  • racial
  • racial profiling in law enforcement
  • racism

African Americans

  • African Diaspora
  • Black people
  • Africana
  • Pan Africanism
  • Black Diaspora

Asian Americans

  • Chinese Americans (or other specific nationalities)
  • Pacific Islanders
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Guam
  • Southeast Asian Americans
  • Southeast Asian Diaspora
  • South Asian Americans
  • Filipino Americans
  • East Indian Americans 
  • East Indian Diaspora
  • Asian Diaspora

European Americans and whiteness

  • Anglo-Americans
  • Caucasians
  • European Americans
  • White ethnicity
  • Whiteness
  • Whites -- Race Identity

Immigrant Populations

  • immigrants, immigration
  • emigration
  • undocumented immigrants
  • [nationality] and immigration (example: Guatemalans and immigration)

Latino Americans

  • Latino/as
  • Latino/a Diaspora
  • Hispanics
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Chicano/as
  • Mexican Americans (or other specific nationality)

Native Americans

  • American Indians
  • Indigenous people
  • Indians of North America
  • First Nations
  • Native Americans
  • Yokuts people (or other specific tribes)

Ethnic Studies goes far beyond a description of basic ethnic groups, with a framework for understanding power, inequality, and advocacy. These additional terms and topics should be explored as well: 

  • Privilege
  • Domination
  • Liberation
  • Racialization
  • Intersectionality
  • Equity
  • Decolonization 
  • White supremacy
  • Settler-colonialism 
  • Self-determination
  • Sovereignty
  • Slavery
  • Jim Crow Segregation
  • Mass Incarceration
  • Internment
  • Forced Sterilization
  • Eugenics movements in the United States
  • Racial profiling
  • Colorblind racism
  • School-to-Prison Pipeline
  • Police brutality
  • Immigrant and Immigration Policy 

Land Acknowledgement

It is important that we prioritize respect for both the historic culture and the contemporary presence of American Indians throughout California and especially in the Central Valley. To this end, we acknowledge that our campus resides on what was historically the homeland of indigenous peoples who were dispossessed of their land. We acknowledge the Yokuts (also called Mariposan) and Mi-Wuk peoples as the traditional land caretakers of the Stanislaus region who live along a 250-mile-long strip in the central San Joaquin Valley and smaller strip of the eastern foothills. We pay our respects to the (Elders) and our relatives, past, present, and emerging.


We have attempted to bring together quality, relevant resources for the Ethnic Studies issues in this guide. We welcome and greatly appreciate any feedback and suggestions for the guide, particularly from the perspectives and experiences of the marginalized groups listed and not listed here.

Questions? Suggestions or resources for the guide? You can contact us at

Do you know of other great resources that we don't already have in our collection? Ask us to purchase it.