Race, Racism & Education: A Week-Long Series

This week, we begin a series of posts about race, racism and education. We’ll be taking a look at some of the latest research and news about these issues at all levels of education, primarily focused on the U.S.

Access to a good quality educational can make a real, material difference between success and just barely surviving, that’s why education has long been at the forefront of civil rights struggles in this country. Jumping off the discussion is Prof. Anita Tijerina Rivella, from 2009, deftly weaving her own experience into the broader issues of Latinas/os and the educational pipeline (9:30):

Rivella does a terrific job here of unpacking some of the myths and stereotypes that black and brown people are somehow less interested in, or motivated in, education than white (or Asian) people.

In fact, research by Behnke, Piercy, and Diversi (“Educational and Occupational Aspirations of Latino Youth and their Parents,” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences[pdf], (February, 2004), Vol. 26, No.4, 16-35) suggests that Latino families do have high educational aspirations. Yet, youth are often pushed out of the pipeline to achieving those goals by barriers including language barriers, a lack of understanding about how pathways through educational systems work and racism.

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~ Through the rest of the week, we’ll explore other aspects of race, racism and education. Do send me any references, citations or video clips of your own work or someone else’s and I’ll do my best to include it.


  1. cordoba blue

    When I was a full time teacher, we’d have professional people of Hispanic backgrounds visit the schools and tell the children about their careers. North Carolina has a large Hispanic population, so the kids really gained alot from this experience I think. They need to see that it can be done.
    Most people from Mexico, in particular, move to the United States because they are poor and there aren’t enough jobs to support their families in Mexico. They haven’t had the opportunity to become highly educated, and thus are willing to take menial labor positions. This does not mean they don’t want their children to be educated and have careers that require higher education.
    But if you come from a very poor family, I think it’s hard for the kids to know how to navigate getting from working at Burger King to becoming an attorney. Therefore, the schools should be required to offer these kids role models and mentors who speak Spanish. To merely expect the kids, who are already struggling just to learn English, to do this on their own is very unrealistic.

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