"I'm hoping that other Latino students open up their stories. It's hard to, I understand. But those stories need to be heard. Because if they are never heard, then you're never going to change anything. There's never going to be anything done" (17 yr old female).
The discussion of resilience and the critical nature of the topic could easily become a philosophical and/or theoretically nuanced bunch of words-upon-words if not rightly anchored to an essential core essence. What core essence should that be? The one that is probably most left-out and underused in Educational discussions:
They said it, not me.
Here are some snippets of student voice that inspired the creation and dedication to this work. Their voice will begin and end this 1st entry, our work has just begun.
"Because we're poor ... that really is the base barrier to overcome. Sometimes you don't have enough money and you can't give enough time to your school work because you have to help your family" (16 yr old, Latino male).
What about the fragile cultural self-worth of one student who experienced this in middle school: "Why are you so smart, you're a Mexican?" That student was, in her words, painfully "ashamed of being Mexican because I felt like, oh, if I say I'm Mexican, they're going to think I'm stupid ... So I went through this period where I was like, I'm American, I'm American." Even though those hurtful-type words were not said to her ever in her high school career of Honors, AP, and IB classes, she shared that "I was really conscious about what that person had said, and so, I like, I carried it" (17 yr old Latina).
"It makes me sad that so many other Latino students don't seem to care so much about school. I feel like it's a horrible thing because so many of them have so much potential and they just push away because they don't have the support system or they don't want to try" (16 yr old Latino).
Some sage advice for other Latino students, from an insightful young woman:
"You can work hard, but it also takes a lot of confidence and believing in yourself. You need to learn the value of who you are; you've been through a lot. That doesn't mean you're not somebody. No matter where you come from, even if you came from a situation like I did, where I felt like I was nothing or I wasn't worthy enough - that's not true. You are. You matter. No one can ever take your spot" (17 yr old Latina).
No one can ever take your spot. Such a powerful phrase. So insightful, so soulful. No one can ever take your spot. Let's teach our disadvantaged youth to live by that phrase. Let that be our mantra and the rallying cry for equity and access to the same great opportunities in education, and thus society, for all students. No one can ever take your spot.
"Critical Resilience" This work is dedicated to the equal and fair education of all children, locally and globally.