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Counterstorytelling Narratives of Latino Teenage Boys

From «Vergüenza» to «Échale Ganas»


Juan A. Ríos Vega

Counterstorytelling Narratives of Latino Teenage Boys presents an ethnographic portrait of the experiences and counterstories of nine Latino teenage boys representing different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds attending a high school in North Carolina. Using critical race theory (CRT), Latino critical theory (LatCrit), and Chicano/a epistemologies as a theoretical framework, the book unveils how differing layers of oppression shape the lives of these boys of color through the intersections of race, gender, and class. Contrary to majoritarian assumptions, cultural deficit models, and their teachers’ low expectations, this research reveals how participants used their cultural capital as a foundation to develop resiliency. The findings in this book suggest that teachers, school administrators, and staff could benefit from a better understanding of Latino/a students’ community cultural wealth as a fundamental element for these students’ academic success. Counterstorytelling Narratives of Latino Teenage Boys will be an excellent resource for teachers, school administrators, college students, and pre-service teachers. It will be useful in courses in Latino/a studies in the United States, multicultural studies, race and education studies, social justice in education, race and gender studies, and social foundations in education.
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Chapter 2. El Que Es Perico, Donde Quiera Es Verde


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The continued failure of so many young men of color not only increases the likelihood that they’ll end up in prison, permanently unemployed, or dead at an early age, but that our society will accept such conditions as normal. (Noguera, 2012, p. 12)

Room 155 became the nurturing space where my students and I learned to heal our experiences as Latino/Latina immigrants to this country. It was in this ESL room where our Otherness was not questioned, where we could cross-linguistic borders y hablar Español without being asked to speak only the oppressor’s language. In this English as a Second Language (ESL) room my students’ heritage language was valued and nurtured as a cultural springboard to learn how to navigate in two different worlds. In this basement room we freely talked about racism, immigration, parents’ separation, fiestas, future goals, and frustrations. In this ESL room we met Sandra Cisneros, Pat Mora, Julia Alvarez, Francisco Jiménez, Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, Victor Martinez, Paul Cuadros, and many other Latino/Latina and Chicano/Chicana writers. These authors encouraged us not only to find commonalities but to create a sense of togetherness and familia as we unpacked our sabidurías de vida (life wisdom). It was in the book A Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez (1996) where character Manuel (Manny) Hernandez, a 14-year-old Mexican-American teenage...

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