Friday, September 21, 2012

19 Sep BB Response: Latinas in Education

Tuesday's brown bag focused on the experience of Latinas in higher education, featuring a panel of three students from LASO: Gabriella Cortes '13, Rose Quispe '13, and Charity Whyte '16.  They discussed what it's like to be a first-generation college student, the stigma against higher education for Latina women and the cultural pressure to start a family instead, and the Dream Act.  The brown bag also began with a video from a speech before the DNC given by a student who is here illegally dealing with her persuit of an education.  It got me thinking about how the internal cultural pressure to go straight into the workforce or the home compounds with the place allotted Latina/os in the American economy, where these are the positions they are expected to obtain, and not higher education or its associated jobs.  The American image of Latina/os seems to be exclusively presentations as "the help" or in hard labour, and the assumption that they are always already illegally here.  There is no real cultural presentation of well-educated Latin American people, especially Latinas, and this can make it difficult for Latina women to break into academia as respected students and teachers.  And if such a person is here illegally, it is assumed they have no right to pursue an education here.  I can only imagine the toll this adversity takes on one's focus and participation in an educational context.  I wonder however if this experience of incredibility as an educated subject is unique to Latina/os, though I recognize that the specific circumstances creating this stigma are unique.  Nevertheless, I'm sure that other people of colour and similarly assumed classes have a shared experience of obstacles to feeling respected in education.

Xavia Publius

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