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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 5. El Muerto y El Arrima’o Al Tercer Día Apesta


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Latino immigrants and their children are struggling to gain a foothold in American society in the face of governmental policies that make their lives exceeding difficult. The immigration status of themselves or their parents makes getting an education, a job, a driver’s license, and medical care both a daily effort and something that requires the development of long-term strategies. (Chavez, 2008, p. 50)

One morning my students and I were analyzing some dichos (proverbs) in Spanish, how some of them had English translations, and how some others were strictly related to our Latin American cultures. Suddenly, a Latina girl exclaimed: “El muerto y el arrima’o al tercer día apesta” (The dead body, as well as the guest, stinks by the third day). Since I had already heard that dicho (proverb) back home, I asked my student how it related to us as immigrants to this country. She shared that this dicho (proverb) applied to racist people who did not like Latinos/Latinas. My student’s example became a form of communal knowledge for everyone in the room. Whether through personal experiences or those of family members, there was a collective consensus that discrimination was something we had to face on a daily basis. We became consciously aware that Latino/Latina immigrants were not welcome in the community.

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