Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Using Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) and Racist Nativism to Explore Intersectionality in the Educational Experiences of Undocumented Chicana College Students

Academic journal article Educational Foundations

Using Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit) and Racist Nativism to Explore Intersectionality in the Educational Experiences of Undocumented Chicana College Students

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the most powerful elements of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Education is that it provides critical researchers with a lens not offered by many other theoretical frameworks--that is, the ability to examine how multiple forms of oppression can intersect within the lives of People of Color and how those intersections manifest in our daily experiences to mediate our education. A theoretical branch extending from CRT is Latina/o Critical Race Theory (LatCrit), which examines experiences unique to the Latina/o community such as immigration status, language, ethnicity, and culture (Solorano & Delgado Bernal, 2001). A LatCrit analysis has allowed researchers to develop the conceptual framework of racist nativism, a lens that highlights the intersection of racism and nativism (Perez Huber, et. al., 2008).

This article examines how a racist nativism framework can help understand the experiences of undocumented Chicana college students attending a public research university in California. First, this article will provide a brief description of how CRT and, in particular, LatCrit have allowed researchers to develop the frame of racist nativism. Second, the framework of racist nativism will be described, including how it is used in this study. Third, this article will describe the data collection strategies, methodological approach and analysis process used to gather and analyze 20 critical race testimonio interviews. Following this description, I will present the findings that demonstrate the ways racist nativism, class and gender have manifested in the educational trajectories of the undocumented Chicana college students.

The Need to Examine Undocumented Latina/o Educational Experiences

There is a limited but growing body of research on the experiences of undocumented Latina/o immigrant students in the U.S. (Abrego, 2002; Bastida et. al., 2007; De Leon, 2005; Fields, 2005; Gonzales, 2007; Guillen, 2004; Madera, et. al., 2008; Oliverez et. al., 2006; Olivas, 1995, 2004; Pabon Lopez, 2005; Perez Huber & Malagon, 2007; Rangel, 2001; Rincon, 2005; Seif, 2004). We know that thousands of undocumented students graduate high schools throughout the country each year, but most are in state of California (Oliverez et. al., 2006). We also know that most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Latin American countries, but Mexico in particular (Passel, 2006). The historical and continued efforts of U.S. foreign policy to ensure Mexican economic dependence on the United States suggests economic conditions in Mexico will continue to leave many Mexican citizens with no choice but to emigrate (Gonzalez & Fernandez, 2002). This means, until the U.S. enacts comprehensive immigration reform that offers the U.S. undocumented population with a path to citizenship, the number of undocumented Latina/o students will continue to grow. Research focusing on this group of students lags far behind this demographic growth.

CRT, LatCrit, and Racist Nativism: An Intersectional Approach

CRT and LatCrit. The overarching theoretical frameworks for this study are CRT, and in particular, LatCrit. CRT in educational research unapologetically centers the ways race, class, gender, sexuality and other forms of oppression manifest in the educational experiences of People of Color. CRT draws from multiple disciplines to challenge dominant ideologies such as meritocracy and colorblindness, which suggest educational institutions are neutral systems that function in the same ways for all students. This framework challenges these beliefs by learning and building from the knowledge of Communities of Color whose educational experiences are marked by oppressive structures and practices. The efforts of revealing racism in education is a conscious move toward social and racial justice and empowerment among Communities of Color (Solorzano & Yosso, 2001; Yosso 2006).

LatCrit is an extension of the efforts of CRT in educational research. …

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