Academic journal article Making Connections

The Voicing of Chicana/Latina Ethnicity, Emotion and Equity in Higher Education Narratives

Academic journal article Making Connections

The Voicing of Chicana/Latina Ethnicity, Emotion and Equity in Higher Education Narratives

Article excerpt

I'm trying to figure this out, somehow: who I am, from where, playing out the mixes within. It isn't a question for me, whether public or private discourses. I am a contradictory consciousness.The discourse should reflect that. I am an uneasy mixes of races that make for no race at all yet finds itself victim to racism.

(Villanueva 276)

This essay begins by exploring how Chicana/Latina undergraduates self-identify using their own educational narratives. As Villenas states, "In seeking to understand the complexities of Latina/Chicana subjectivities and projects of empowerment, Latinas/Chicanas have centered the ways in which systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, linguicism, homophobia, citizenship surveillance and class subjugation have impacted their lives and ways of knowing the world" (660). The purpose of this work is to show the ways in which Chicanas/Latinas express their ethnic selves or sense of ethnic identity in the voicing of their educational life stories. Guided by grounded theory, finer distinctions within the conceptual domains of ethnic identity are uncovered, thereby allowing us to specify the conditions that "give rise to a specific set of action/interaction pertaining to a phenomenon and the resulting consequences" (Strauss and Corbin 251). Per se, the phenomenon of ethnic/racial integration and the interviewees' self-perceptions regarding university campus climate within a predominately white institution (PWI) is explored within this piece.

The participants in the study are 12 firstgeneration college students with junior or senior status who identify as Latina, Mexicana, Mexicana American or Chicana, and they were born either in California or Mexico. In this work, the terms Chicana and Latina are used to be inclusive of all the interviewees. All of the contributors, ranging in ages 20 to 22, were Chicana/o Studies Majors or Sociology Majors and they grew up in Spanish-speaking households with parents averaging a second to third grade education level.

We begin with two questions concerning identity:

1. How does Chicana/Latina ethnic identity influence educational choices?

2. Are these choices voiced as being influenced by social justice concerns in opposition to institutional racism, or by personal factors?

The first question relates to how Chicanas/Latinas portray themselves in their narratives, particularly focusing on reported speech referred to as "double-voicing" by Volosinov. For example, a narrator may use reported speech, such as a conversation between friends, as a method for contextualizing a perceived educational experience. The second question uncovers the high emotional tone that occurs when Chicanas/Latinas talk about matters of institutional racism. This relates to what Boler refers to as making a "pedagogy of discomfort" visible by addressing "collective witnessing" (175). This pedagogy, as voiced by the Chicana/Latina participants allows us insight to personalized understandings of campus climate within PWIs. Historically, campus climate for marginalized populations has been problematic and continues to progress with little improvement. Additionally, as Hart and Fellabaum indicate, "The extant literature defining campus climate is scant; yet the term is used on many campuses and in many contexts to understand diversity issues and quality of life issues" (222). Thus, this work is centered on the hope that exploring Chicana/Latina self-perceptions at the university level will assist in providing links to ethnic identity and experiences in higher education from which to build a growing sense of campus inclusivity.

The following sections will address the two research questions and their findings individually.

Voicing Chicana/Latina Ethnic Identity in Educational Narratives

This section addresses the voicing of ethnic identity as demonstrated in reported speech. Buttny indicates that incidents of reported speech are prime sites for analyzing talk of race or racialized identity. …

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