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Title:Literacies and racial ideology: a black Colombian young male's learning and participation in an urban school
Author(s):Guerrero Arias, Beatriz Eugenia
Director of Research:Willis, Arlette I
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Willis, Arlette I
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bresler, Liora; Garcia, Georgia E; DeNicolo, Christina
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Black Colombian
Abstract:This is a qualitative case study of the relationships between literacy and racial ideology in Surgir, a school in the city of Cali, Colombia. This study focuses on Yeison Daniel, a black Colombian young male’s learning and participation in the school and in the classroom. His learning and participation are framed within his views on literacy as tied to racial struggles. Informants in this case study involve Yeison Daniel’s aunt and grandmother, Surgir’s academic coordinators, fifth grade teachers and students, the librarian, and the principal. Data was documented in fieldnotes, through participant observations, interviews, conversations (face-to-face and virtual), artifacts, literacy pieces, screenshots, digital files, websites, and documents in the (a) fifth grade classroom, (b) the school space (offices, cafeteria, hallways, play zones, coliseum, library, teachers’ lounge, and rooms), and (c) Yeison Daniel's home. Findings showed that Yeison Daniel's views on literacy are linked to learning, participation, and racial identity. His views on literacy in the home setting represent a way to foster his racial identity as a black young male living-in-the-city who likes English, urban dance, and hip hop music. In the home setting, Yeison Daniel's literacies are used to convey a particular style and they are characterized by the use of Internet platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Google Translate, and Youtube. He understands literacies as ways of learning how to foster a black-living-in-the-city-identity, and learning as doing and participating. In the school, literacies work as a tool for institutionalizing and contesting the school’s racial ideology shown through the mestizaje racial frame. The mestizaje racial frame involves ideas about black people being rural, about ethnicity –not race– as the criteria for categorizing groups, and about a mestizo national identity that rejects blacks and indigenous peoples. This frame is institutionalized through the school official literacies. The mestizaje racial frame and the literacies it uses were analyzed in a school event called the Ethnic Week. The mestizaje racial frame is also contested through literacies. These literacies, likewise Yeison Daniel’s, are inextricably tied to identity, learning and racial struggles. In the classroom, literacy and racial ideology were institutionalized and contested in a different way. This was because the fifth grade teacher in Yeison Daniel’s classroom is a black male who moved between having to teach content tied to the mestizaje racial frame and its literacies, and contesting it. In the school, Yeison Daniel's views on literacy impact his learning and participation while hindering his academic standing. In the general school setting Yeison Daniel contests the mestizaje racial frame and its literacies with his opinions and non-participation in the Ethnic Week's activities that promoted the school racial ideology. In the classroom, his participation relates to instances of contestation that range from non-participation to peripheral legitimate participation, depending on the events' racial ideology weight. For Yeison Daniel, contestation is a peripheral legitimate participation in the community of black-people-living-in-the-city, and for the school, contestation are discipline misbehaviors. Findings suggest that relationships between literacy and race in the school range from using literacy for institutionalizing the school’s racial ideology, to using literacy for contesting it. The characteristics of the literacies used for institutionalization correspond with what I call Racialized Literacies of Domination (RLD) that are presented as generic, official, and as having an intrinsic value for all people to move forward. The characteristics of the literacies used for contestation correspond with what I call Racialized Literacies of Struggle (RLS) that are alternative, organic, varied, and tied to identities of racial struggle. The tensions of practicing these literacies represent tensions between structure and agency in the school. This study calls for reflection on the important role the Colombian government places on official literacy and education for improving the living conditions of the black population living in poverty. This study highlights that understanding the role of literacy in the education of black students is much more complex than just increasing literacy rates. Due to the racialized character of literacies, understanding the role of literacy in the education of black children must be carefully reflected on as tensions between structure and agency, instead of seeing literacy as the salvation for all black students. Future research must include the analysis of literacies in light of practices of contestation, intersectionality, the role of the home setting for nesting identities of struggle, mestizos’ racial enactment in educational settings, and institutional racial ideologies.
Issue Date:2016-04-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Beatriz Eugenia Guerrero Arias
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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