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4 This Is no Slum - ThisIsNoSlum Ravine Tara J Yosso and...

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145 Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 32:1 Spring 2007 © University of California Regents “This Is No Slum!” A Critical Race Theory Analysis of Community Cultural Wealth in Culture Clash’s Chavez Ravine Tara J. Yosso and David G. García A BSTRACT : Drawing on a critical race theory framework, this article weaves together sociology, education, history, and performance studies to challenge deficit interpretations of Pierre Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory and to analyze Culture Clash’s play Chavez Ravine. The play recounts a decade of Los Angeles history through the perspectives of displaced Mexican American families from three former neighborhoods of Chavez Ravine. Culture Clash’s performance recovers and personifies the community cultural wealth cultivated by these families. This multifaceted portfolio of cultural assets and resources includes aspirational, linguistic, social, navigational, familial, and resistant capital. Chavez Ravine affirms the continuity of Chicana/o communities, utilizing culture as a source of strength that facilitates survival and nurtures resistance. M ANAZAR : I want to talk about this photograph right here. ( Manazar points to the photo hovering above him. ) I see uncles, primas, I see my sister, mira, there’s Joe Guerra and his brother Johnny, I see Father Tomas. See that morenito kid right there in the middle? That’s me with my carnal, they used to call me Nonio. . . . If you look closely at the photo, some of the señoras are wearing army hats, and on the hats are little stars. Those little stars are for their sons and daughters who were away—over there—serving their country. Some of the fellas never made it back. My neighbors were Italians, Slavs, Russians, and some Germans but for the most part, era pura Mexicanada, puro frijol. And on holidays, pura aroma de tamal y menudo, y los compadres tocando la guitarra til late at night. That was our community; that’s something you can never erase from your cabeza. (27–28) 1 This excerpt from the 2003 play Chavez Ravine by the Chicano-Latino theater group Culture Clash introduces the history of the former Los
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146 Yosso and García Angeles community of Chavez Ravine. 2 In remembering the three neigh- borhoods of the Ravine, the play takes a perspective that is very different from the view shared by many social scientists and historians. Through the play, Culture Clash unapologetically provides a critical, revisionist historical account of institutional racism, cultural resilience, and com- munity resistance. For us, this theatrical approach parallels the academic insights of critical race theory (CRT). Indeed, our appreciation of Culture Clash’s deliberate emphasis on race and culture leads us to examine their play Chavez Ravine using a CRT lens.
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