Theory, Research, & Praxis
Edited By Donald Jr. Mitchell, Jakia Marie and Tiffany Steele
Chapter Twenty-One: Theory to Practice: Problematizing Student Affairs Work through Intersectionality
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Problematizing Student Affairs Work through Intersectionality
MARIA OROPEZA FUJIMOTO AND MIGUEL U. LUNA
I call myself a mixture of different things. I don’t think anybody is one particular self…one particular group…there is a lot of hidden things in people’s backgrounds. They might look one way, but that has absolutely little or no bearing on their actual [experiences]…. I think a lot of people want to limit and kind of put people into boxes. (Sonic, a Latina college graduate reflecting on her identities)
For many students, their social identities are far more complex than signifiers imply, yet they are typically labeled based on just one of their social identities. For example, many student affairs practitioners understand the lived experiences and struggles of students from one particular social identity but may not necessarily consider students’ multiple social identities that are interlocking and intersecting. Unfortunately, working with students based on just one of their social identities has not resulted in increased levels of academic success. Intersectionality provides an important lens to examine both the complexity of individual identities grounded in multiple oppressions (Reynolds & Pope, 1991) as well as a framework for understanding educational inequities and pursuing social justice (Dill & Zambrana, 2009). This social justice agenda requires a challenging of essentialized and deficit-based understandings of social identities. More specifically, community cultural wealth (CCW) holds that individuals from nondominant communities draw on nondominant forms of knowledge, skills, and resources...
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