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Getting College Ready

Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities

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Julie Minikel-Lacocque

Getting College Ready: Latin@ Student Experiences of Race, Access, and Belonging at Predominantly White Universities challenges the way we conceive of college access, retention, and success for underrepresented students writ large. Specifically, through presenting an in-depth, qualitative case study on six Latin@ students transitioning to a public, predominantly White university, it examines what the institution does, or doesn’t do, to meet the needs of these students. This book seamlessly combines the topics of college access and the transition to college for underrepresented students; it offers a comprehensive review of what we already know about underrepresented students in college and how they get there; it challenges some of this existing literature; and throughout, it weaves in the compelling voices and experiences of the study’s focal students and staff members tasked with supporting them. This thoughtful study demands that we reconsider the ways in which we understand college access, school success, college preparation, the tenuous relationship between religious fundamentalism and public education, and conceptions of race and racism. Indeed, this work calls into question what it means to be «college ready».
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Chapter 5. Racism, College, and the Power of Words:

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← 98 | 99 →· 5 ·RACISM, COLLEGE, AND THE POWER OF WORDS

Racial Microaggressions Reconsidered

[Author’s Note: Parts of this chapter were originally published as: Minikel-Lacocque, J. (2013). Racism, college, and the power of words: Racial microaggressions reconsidered. American Educational Research Journal, 50(3), 432–465.]

They [White students on campus] look at me likeI shouldn’t be here, like I don’t belong here.Like, ‘You need to go back where you came from,’cause you don’t need to be here.’

—Moriah

Recall from Chapter 1 that Moriah started her first semester at CMU with abundant confidence in her ability to succeed in college. Although she was aware that the sub par neighborhood high school she attended did not provide her with ideal college preparation, she believed she could make up for that disadvantage. As we saw in Chapters 2 and 3, however, her confidence was swiftly dashed and she frequently considered dropping out of college. Her struggles, however, were not rooted in academics; she consistently maintained a 3.65 grade-point average. Although she experienced significant financial stress, the principal cause for her discontentment was the feeling that she did not belong. Predominantly White CMU was not a welcoming place for her—she constantly felt she was treated as an outsider. Indeed, ← 99 | 100 → Moriah rarely saw any faces in the crowd that resembled her own, she often was stared at by White students as she walked through campus, and she witnessed various forms of...

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