3 Cinco de Mayo

3 Cinco de Mayo - Cinco de Mayo Normative Whiteness and the Marginalization of Mexican-Descent Students CLAYTON A HURD Colorado State University

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Cinco de Mayo, Normative Whiteness, and the Marginalization of Mexican-Descent Students CLAYTON A. HURD Colorado State University This case study is concerned with how institutional practices of normative whiteness can impede the school involvement of Mexican-descent students. It examines how damaging forms of white normativity can operate in school settings where one might least expect to find them: in commemorations of Mexican cultural holidays. The author shows how such commemora- tions can have the paradoxical effect of marginalizing Mexican-descent students and discour- aging their involvement in a range of school activities. [Mexican American, whiteness, cultural conflict, cultural celebrations, belonging, identity formation] Whiteness, as a set of normative cultural practices, is visible most clearly to those it defini- tively excludes and those whom it does violence. Those who are securely housed within its borders usually do not examine it --Ruth Frankenberg, 1993 In this article, I am concerned with how institutional practices of normative whiteness can impede the school involvement and educational opportunity of Mexican-descent students.' The following ethnographic case study examines how damaging forms of white normativity can operate even in school settings where one might least expect to find them: in this case, in celebrations of Mexican cultural holidays, particularly those of Diecis6is de Septiembre (Mexican Independence Day) and Cinco de Mayo (the commemoration of the battle at Puebla). I investigate how the school administration's active efforts to maintain neutrality toward racial, class, and cultural conflict and entitlement on these days has had particular alienating effects on Mexican-descent students. Using ethnographic data from a multiyear study of a suburban California high school, I explore how the cultural commemorations of Mexican holidays have had the paradoxical effect of marginalizing Mexican-descent students and limiting their ability to gain a sense of belonging and ownership in school contexts that would help facilitate their success. The school's stance of so-called neutrality, I maintain, is part of a larger set of institutional practices of normative whiteness that are particu- larly dangerous, given the power they have to shape patterns of student identification and boundary-making processes in ways that limit equal status interactions and compel white and Mexican-descent students to see each other as divided by seem- ingly irreconcilable racial and cultural differences. I identify some of the mechanisms through which these practices of incorporation and exclusion occur, and the school's role in mediating this process. Particular attention is paid to how selected Mexican- descent students and teachers make sense of the school's manner of managing the ongoing cultural and racial conflicts surrounding these events. Anthropology & Education Quarterly,
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This note was uploaded on 10/23/2011 for the course SOC 10 taught by Professor Dunn during the Spring '10 term at UC Riverside.

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3 Cinco de Mayo - Cinco de Mayo Normative Whiteness and the Marginalization of Mexican-Descent Students CLAYTON A HURD Colorado State University

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