Chicanas and Chicanos in School: Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment

Chicanas and Chicanos in School: Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment

Chicanas and Chicanos in School: Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment

Chicanas and Chicanos in School: Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment


"By utilizing a multivocal narrative methodology, this book opens a new and important area of qualitative research that studies the racializing of school-age youth, complementing the work of researchers such as Henry Giroux and Peter McLaren.... The book is accessible to teachers who must daily grapple with the challenges of teaching cross-racial populations of students. Teachers (and students) often navigate these turbulent issues with minimal support and scarce resources. This book helps to fill that gap." - Margaret E. Montoya, Professor of Law, University of New Mexico

By any measure of test scores and graduation rates, public schools are failing to educate a large percentage of Chicana/o youth. But despite years of analysis of this failure, no consensus has been reached as to how to realistically address it. Taking a new approach to these issues, Marcos Pizarro goes directly to Chicana/o students in both urban and rural school districts to ask what their school experiences are really like, how teachers and administrators support or thwart their educational aspirations, and how schools could better serve their Chicana/o students. In this accessible, from-the-trenches account of the Chicana/o school experience, Marcos Pizarro makes the case that racial identity formation is the crucial variable in Chicana/o students' success or failure in school. He draws on the insights of students in East Los Angeles and rural Washington State, as well as years of research and activism in public education, to demonstrate that Chicana/o students face the daunting challenge of forming a positive sense of racial identity within an educational system that unintentionally yet consistently holds them to low standards because of their race. From his analysis of this systemic problem, he develops a model for understanding the process of racialization and for empowering Chicana/o students to succeed in school that can be used by teachers, school administrators, parents, community members, and students themselves.


This book has been a life's work. the most conscious sense I have of its beginning is when I taught elementary school in inner-city Los Angeles. Teaching in a working-class community that was almost all Latina/o, mainly Mexican, I saw things I had always known but never wanted to witness in such vivid detail. in the three years I worked there, I faced the constant and systematic denial of educational opportunity to all but a select few students. I was enraged and determined to use my academic work to address the needs of Chicana/o students.

During that time, as a doctoral student, I began research that would help me understand how certain Chicana/o students survive and even thrive in the midst of the educational injustice I had witnessed. I was particularly interested in how issues of race themselves affect Chicana/o students' success and failure. This work led me, several years later, to embark on a massive research agenda. I wanted to deconstruct Chicana/o students' social identities. That is, I wanted to understand how Chicana/o youth understand themselves within their social worlds. in addition, I wanted to determine how, if at all, these students' social identities were related to their school lives.

My interests were shared by many others I had met in a number of different arenas of my experience. in every Chicana/o community in which I have spent any time, the same concerns hang thick in the air. Although different communities and individuals emphasize specific issues such as crime, underemployment, or gangs, two interconnected factors shape these concerns: poverty and education. the roles of poverty and education in shaping Chicana/o community life are grounded in a legacy of oppression that is far removed from the twenty-first century and yet ever present in the daily lives of millions of Chicanas/os. Parents . . .

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