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Title:Understanding Latina/o identity and community in a white and well-resourced Chicagoland suburban high school
Author(s):Rodriguez, Gabriel
Director of Research:Pak, Yoon
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pak, Yoon
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Haas Dyson, Anne; Brown, Ruth Nicole; Kwon, Soo Ah
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Latina/o youth identity, Latina/o education, suburban education
Abstract:As the largest ethnic/minority group in the U.S., Latina/os are changing the landscape of suburban schools. The changes this population is bringing to suburbia are reflected in its schools. Since 1990, Latina/o student enrollment in suburban schools has more than doubled (Frankenberg & Orfield, 2012, p. 16). Yet, the dominant paradigm in studying Latina/o youth in schools has been through an urban lens. This research reconsiders this approach by distinguishing between urban and suburban. Student participants attend a suburban high school in Chicagoland that is predominately white and well resourced. There is no denying that schools with more means such as some suburban communities can provide more resources for their students but just because there are ample resources does not mean that all students experience them equitably (Lewis & Diamond, 2015; Lewis-McCoy, 2014; Shiller, 2016). Latina/o students experience their schooling differently. Latina/o youth traverse different academic and social terrains that challenge their identity performances. Through a critical ethnographic approach, this study examines how 19 Latina/o youth respond to both whiteness and their Latina/o peers to better navigate their academic and social worlds. Situated within this context, this research is guided by the following two questions: first, how do Latina/o youth at Shields High School (pseudonym) negotiate and perform their identities (e.g., race, class, gender, language, citizenship); and second, what are the ways in which Latina/o youth build and maintain community in their school? My research finds that Latina/o youth are dexterous in the types of identities they perform, but whiteness plays a critical role in creating the context for enacting different modes of silence. Further, youth are acutely aware that they need to “play the game of school” to receive the opportunities and resources their school possesses. Any departure from that renders them as ungrateful and subject to critique and policing. However, youth possess resilience and innovative agency to create a community for themselves. Examples include reclaiming spaces in their school and resisting whiteness by displaying their culture in ways that are meaningful to them through their language and fashion. I argue that Latina/o youth enact identities and carve out spaces of their own in ways that subvert white supremacy and deficit-based ascriptions and practices rooted in meritocracy, gratitude, and respectability.
Issue Date:2018-04-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Gabriel Rodriguez
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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