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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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7. When Violence Interferes with Educational Opportunity: Latinas’ Narratives of Resistance and Agency

Individual Interviews with the Latinas


7. When Violence Interferes with Educational Opportunity: Latinas’ Narratives of Resistance and Agency


The educational experiences of Latina adolescents are shaped by racial, ethnic, gender, linguistic, and social class constructs.1 Given the social positioning of Latina youth, their educational realities are impacted by various oppressive structures that operate among social institutions including neighborhoods and schools. In particular, they endure an educational system that is laced with race- and gender-based stereotypes that misrepresent Latinas and hinder their achievement and opportunities to matriculate into college (Cammarota, 2004, p. 55), sometimes as a result of their being retained in high school and/or suspended (National Women’s Law Center & MALDEF, 2009). Given the challenges Latinas encounter, it is necessary to understand the systemic barriers that complicate their educational progress as they confront dominant institutions and practices that marginalize them. Informed by forms of violence among adolescent Latinas, the research team began a follow-up study with the young Latinas who participated in the original focus groups.

Why the focus specifically on the young women in the study? First, the student focus groups revealed a high prevalence of physical fighting among Latinas. Second, within the school district data, Latinas had higher overall suspension rates when compared to their male racial/ethnic counterparts. Third, although Latinas have high educational and professional aspirations, it is disconcerting that 16% of Latinas drop out of high school (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). Cammarota...

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