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Justice and Space Matter in a Strong, Unified Latino Community


Kathy Bussert-Webb, María Eugenia Díaz and Krystal A. Yanez

Justice and Space Matter in a Strong, Unified Latino Community provides a detailed analysis of colonias along the Mexico–United States border, examining the intersection of culture, education, language, literacy, race, religion, and social class in Latino immigrant communities. The researchers investigated Corazón, a colonia in South Texas, as a case study of these unincorporated border settlements, consisting of mostly Mexican heritage residents and lacking many basic living necessities. Highlighting over ten years of research findings, the authors consider structural inequalities alongside the unique strengths of Corazón. Their acute observations dispel myths about such high-poverty communities and demonstrate how residents overcome the odds through activism, faith, and ganas. In presenting a portrait of the Corazón colonia, the authors offer a deeper level of understanding of one Latino community to inspire the development of a more equitable, compassionate world. This book will be invaluable to students and scholars of all fields who work with culturally diverse people in poverty, and will be ideal for courses in ethnic studies, multicultural studies, ethnographic methods, and socio-cultural applications for education.

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Chapter 1. Entering—The Field and Our Positionality (with Claudia Troncoso and Irma Guadarrama)


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Meet Maribel and Alma

Corazón. April 27, 2006. The floor to Maribel’s home sits at ground level, with no step above the elements. Only the door blocks the outside—no marble threshold, no raised platform. However, Alma represents the threshold to other realities, the bridge between Kathy, professor, and Maribel, resident. As the founding Tutorial Center coordinator, Alma assists Kathy in recruiting children tutees for our community service learning (CSL) course. For CSL, Kathy’s students would tutor and garden with youth and write course-based reflections. Kathy notices handwriting on Maribel’s wall by a mounted phone—numbers, names, dates. “We engaged in those literacy practices on our walls at home,” Kathy recalls, then listens to Alma discuss the CSL program with Maribel. The Hungarian in Kathy chimes in regarding the food we will provide.

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