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The Plight of Invisibility

A Community-Based Approach to Understanding the Educational Experiences of Urban Latina/os


Donna Marie Harris and Judy Marquez Kiyama

The Plight of Invisibility offers unique contributions that inform the use of a community-based research approach that examines educational issues identified by urban, Latina/o communities. It offers a new lens from which to understand the circumstances of Latina/o students in schools as they navigate in social systems that are in opposition to them, thus rendering Latina/o students and their families invisible. Despite these challenges, the book offers examples of community programs and resources that support and address the needs of Latina/o students as they build resiliency and determination to persist. Community organizations and advocates, educational researchers, practitioners, students, and policymakers will find The Plight of Invisibility useful to reframe deficit discourses about Latina/o students and their families. In addition, the book is appropriate for classes including methodology courses focused on community-based research, educational policy and/or college access courses, and Latina/o studies courses.
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2. Estámos Aquí! A Historical Context for the Plight of Invisibility

Development of the Latina/o Community in Rochester


2. Estámos Aquí! A Historical Context for the Plight of Invisibility


Understanding the historical context in which the Latina/o1 community in Rochester, New York, has developed is crucial to situating the rest of the chapters in this book in the larger political, social, cultural, and economic milieu. We begin by charting some important events in the community over the past several decades. Following that, a synthesis of two reports (Rochester City School District, 1986, 1999) on the status of Latina/o students in the RCSD is provided. Current demographic information for Rochester’s Latina/o community is presented, followed by a brief summary of the Ibero- American Action League’s role in the community and city as a way to situate the Latina/o Education Task Force in relation to Latina/o advocacy and action for their community. Finally, we discuss the implications of this chapter for the community and larger U.S. context.

As we reviewed the community’s history, the continued struggle to be seen, heard, and included became clear. That fight is ongoing, as advocates and allies press the city school district and other agencies to acknowledge the particularities of Latina/os’ experiences. Similar to the Chicana/o community in Southern California (Delgado Bernal, 1998), the Latina/o community in Rochester, New York, is characterized by historical and present-day bilingualism in (devalued) Spanish and (privileged) English; migration to and from home countries (circular migration to and from the Island, in the case of...

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