The Cycle of un-liberation : compromised language and the reimagining of liberation for students of color in higher education

Material Information

The Cycle of un-liberation : compromised language and the reimagining of liberation for students of color in higher education
Yoon, Jihee
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Social Science)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Social Sciences
Committee Chair:
Caronan, Faye C.
Committee Members:
McGuffey, Lucy W.
Swartz, Omar


In this thesis I will critique the ways that the neoliberalization of education further suppresses the liberation of students of color in higher education. Neoliberal principles, in particular the illusion of individualism and the fostering of competitions, continues to perpetuate the alienation of students of color while continuously keeping them bound by oppressive systems of whiteness. Thus, structures of whiteness and neoliberalism converge benefitting off the backs of students of color. While dealing with the baggage of navigating through predominantly white institutions, microaggressions, racial battle fatigue, systemic racism, isolation, and the lack of support experienced by students of color, they are still expected to take on the responsibilities of maintaining “success” which has been structured on white supremacy. Not only are students of color isolated within higher educational spaces, they are simultaneously commodified for their racial identities with little to no support once they are in the institutions. Their identities are utilized and coupled with promoting the institution’s “diversity” and “inclusion” initiatives. Using on Bobbie Harro’s (2008) “Cycle of Liberation” as a guide, this thesis will explore how students of color navigating through higher education can work to gain the tools to liberate themselves and their communities from the forces of neoliberalization. Through the examination of current discourse on the commodification of students of color, counter-stories, and ways of survival, this thesis will critique oppressive neoliberal systems within higher education as they intersect with structures of whiteness. By utilizing different methods of survival provided to students of color by current works done by scholars of color such as Tara J. Yosso’s (2005) and her “Community Cultural Wealth” model, I explore the ways students of color can begin the work of liberation as the component of “community” is brought back into higher educational spaces. The thesis ends with the exploration of my own methods of critique on work done by scholars of color as a way of reproducing and perpetuating whiteness even as a student of color myself. Therefore, working towards ways of decolonization of language I conclude that when students of color go through the process of problematizing the very notions of “knowledge” and “language” they can work towards building community and breaking neoliberal principles. The ultimate goal of this thesis is to understand ways of liberation for students of color from oppressive systems working against them.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Jihee Yoon. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.


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THE CYCLE OF UN LIBERATION: COMPROMISED LANGUAGE AND THE REIMAGINING OF LIBERATION FOR STUDENTS OF COLOR IN HIGHER EDUCATION by JIHEE YOON B.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2016 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfilment o f the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Science s 2018


! ii This thesis for the Master of Social Science degree by Jihee Yoon h as been approved for the Social Science s Program by Faye C. Caronan, Chair Lucy W. McGuffey Omar Swartz Date: July 28 , 2018


! iii Yoon, Jihee (M SS, Social Sciences Program) The Cycle of Un Liberation : Compromised Language and the Reimagining of Liberation for Students of Color in Higher Education Thesis di rected by Associate Professor Faye Caronan A BSTRACT In this thesis I will critique the ways that the neoliberalization of education further suppresses the liberation of students of color in higher education. Neoliberal principles, in particu lar the illus ion of individualism and the fostering of competitions , continues to perpetuate the alienation of students of color while c ontinuously keeping them bound by oppressive systems of whiteness. Thus, structures of whiteness and neoliberalism converge benefitti ng off the backs of students of color. While dealing with the baggage of navigating through predominantly white institutions, microaggressions, racial battle fatigue, systemic racism, isolation, and the lack of support experienced by students of color, the y are still expected to take on the responsibilities of maintaining "success" which has been structured on white supremacy. Not only are students of color isolated within higher educational spaces, they are simultaneously commodified for their racial ident ities with little to no support once they are in the institutions. Their identities are utilized and coupled with promoting the institution's "diversity" and "inclusion" initiatives . Using on Bobbie Harro's (2008) "Cycle of Liberation" as a guide , this th esis will explore how students of color navigating through higher education can work to gain the tools to liberate themselves and their communities from the forces of neoliberalization. Through the examination of current discourse on the commodification of students of color, counter stories, and ways of survival, this thesis will critique oppressive neoliberal systems within higher education as they intersect with structures of whiteness. By u tilizing different methods of survival provided to


! iv students of co lor by current works done by scholars of color such as Tara J. Yosso's (2005 ) and her "Community Cultural Wealth" model, I explore the ways students of color can begin the work of liberation as the component of "community" is brought back into high er educa tional spaces. The thesis ends with the exploration of my own methods of critique on work done by scholars of color as a way of reproducing and perpetuating whiteness even as a student of color myself . Therefore, working towards ways of decolonization of language I conclude that when students of color g o through the process of problematizing the very notion s of "knowledge" and "language" they can work towards building community and breaking neoliberal principles. The ultimate goal of this thesis is to unde rstand ways of liberation for students of color from oppressive systems working against them. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication . Approved: Faye C. Caronan


! v TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. ! INTRODUCTION ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 1 Statement of the Research Project ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... ÉÉÉÉ É. 1 Counter Storytelling: Positionality of My Research ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ É ÉÉ É . 2 Research Questions ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... ... 9 Thesis Organization ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... É. 9 II. ! THE ORETICAL FRAMEWORK ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. .. 12 Critical Race Theory ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. . . 12 Critical Race Methodology ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . .. 15 Critical Whiteness Studies ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. .. . 16 III. ! NEOLIBERAL AND ITS IMPACTS O N HIGHER EDUCATION .......... ÉÉÉ. .. . 20 Neoliberalism and its Principles ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. .. . 20 Neoliberalization of Education ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. .. . 24 LimitationsÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉ É. 28 IV. ! NEOLIBERALIZATION AN D RACISM IN HIGHER EDUCATION ......... ÉÉ.. . 30 H istorical Racism in Higher Education ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. . . 31 Counter Story: Eugene ParkÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 32 Counter Story: Eric Anthony GrollmanÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 36 Neoliberalization of Education, Whiteness, and the Commodification of Students of Col or .................................... ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. ÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.... .. 38 V. ! WAYS OF COMBATING AND SURVIVAL THROUGH COMMUNITYÉÉ É 46 Counter Story: Ciarra JonesÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 46


! vi Survival and Ways of CombatingÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. . 49 VI. ! REFLECTIONS OF THE CYC LE OF LIBERATIONÉÉÉ É. É ÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 56 Methods of the Continuation of the Cycle of Liberation ÉÉ É. É ÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 57 Reimagining Language and Knowledge for Students of Color ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉ ... .. 60 VII. ! CONCLUSION ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . É.. 67 REFERENCES ÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . É.. 71


! vii LIST OF FIGURES FIGURES 1. ! Bobbie Harro's (2008) Cycle of Liberation ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉ.. 10 2. ! "Waking Up" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. ÉÉ... . 11 3. ! "Getting Ready" S tage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 18 4. ! "Getting Ready" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ .. 28 5. ! "Reaching Out" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉÉ. 43 6. ! "Building Community" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 44 7. ! "Creating Change" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 54 8. ! "Coalescing" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 55 9. ! "Creating Change" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉ... ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 63 10. ! "Maintaining" Stage ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ... ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ... 64


! 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Statement of the Research Project Isolation and lack of support are notoriously common narratives felt by students of color in higher education, as they work to navigate through spaces that are grounded in whiteness and racist ideologies (Museus et. al., 2015). Combine the standards of "success" that have been embedded within structures of white supremacy within education (Cabrera, 2014 ) and neoliberalism penetrating those educational institutions, this makes for hostile spaces for students of color in higher education in particular. In 2018 when terms such as "diversity", "inclusion", "equity", "social justice" become crucial selling points of appeal withi n institutions, we must be cautious as students of color before fully immersing within these spaces. With the perpetual "othering" of students of color, problematizing these institutions that bank on the needs and wants of students of color while little to no structures of support for these particular students must be explored. This thesis attempts to investigate and critique the ways higher educational spaces adhere to neoliberal principles connected with the body of research based on racism present withi n higher education Ð two structures propelling students of color to be in a constant state of "survival" and "combat" mode as they navigate through their education. As this thesis works to examine the ways oppressive systems work against students of color, there will be an exploration of the ways students of color can combat those systems by ways of empowerment through the reemergence of "community" in higher education (Yosso, 2005 ). Finally, in the conclusion, I wil l attempt to illuminate the problematizat ion of education as a whole can work to liberate


! 2 students of color against the intimate oppressive relationship of neoliberalism and white supremacy within higher education. Counter Storytelling: Positionality of My Research As a student of color navigati ng through a social sciences graduate program, I have had the privilege to explore the foundations of my identity both in and out of the classroom. With my interactions with various faculty, staff, and fellow students, the meta cognition of my racial ident ity through these interactions, literature, assignments, and classroom discussions have laid the groundwork of my experiences (Matias 2013). Within this space, now more than ever have I felt the emotional labor and the repercussions felt by the consequence s of neoliberal principles and policies that entrench the higher educational system. Not only are students of color battling against neoliberal forces that harbor competition, individualism, commodification, and illusions of "freedom, equality , and popular rule" (Brown, 2015 , p. 9), they also must combat the overlay of these principles within the structures of white supremacy already present in the academy (Museus et. al., 2015). Therefore, my research has been grounded within my personal experiences in my graduate program as a student of color. Sol—rzano and Yosso (2002) argue that personal stories or narratives illuminate an "individual's experiences with various forms of racism and sexism" (p. 32). These stories are necessary because they challenge the d ominant discourse on race and humanize real life experiences faced by students of color. Delgado (1989) critically states that oppressed groups being a ble to express their stories is an "essential tool to their survival and liberation" (p. 2436). I chose t o tell my personal narrative as a tool for "exposing, analyzing, and challenging the majoritarian stories of racial privilege" in higher educational institutions (Sol—rzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 32). Hence, I begin my thesis by articulating my own personal


! 3 nar rative of my experiences as a student of color to establish my positionality within my research as well as to start my own process of liberation from the historically white higher educational institutions grounded in neoliberal principles. Before I begin, I want to make clear that I understand that my experience within my ow n intersectional identities cannot be a monolithic narrative for all students of color. However, I also would like to emphasize that while my experiences are my own, they are not unique in the narratives and experiences shared by students of color in higher education. I am compelled to tell my story so that it might also help begin the process of healing for similar experiences felt by other students within marginalized spaces in higher e ducation when they read narratives that resonate with their experience . For the purposes of emphasis, my personal narrative will be italicized. I first started my graduate program based on the recommendations of various mentors that had witnessed my grow th as a student throughout my undergraduate years. Though I hoped to continue my work in ethnic studies specifically, an interdisciplinary graduate program that provided an ethnic studies track was the next best thing. While meeting with directors of the p rogram, I remember starting my first year as a graduate student eager to learn as I expected that we were truly going to engage in tough critical conversations that transcended the necessity to go through basic understandings of racist/oppressive structure s that appeared within society. This was a program that was grounded in social justice after all, and every student within my cohort expressed their passions to break down oppressive systems through an intersectional framework with a mindset on social and critical consciousness. Looking back, I realized that my expectations were optimistically high as I reflect on the tremendous emotional pain and labor I had gone through in the short two years of my graduate studies.


! 4 When I first came into my interdiscipl inary program, the flexibility and the agency to choose the courses that best encapsul ated my research interests seemed like a source of empowerment . This was a chance to gather knowledge and learn from my professors and peers while ensuring that finally, my intersectional identities (specifically my racial identity) could b e supported in various spaces. I believed that t aking courses across different disciplines, I believed would provide me with the tools and vocabulary to be present in these spaces while I imagined every voice would be valued within the classroom. Suffice it to say that this was not the case. Whether it be the literature we read, the assignments we completed , or the discussions within the classroom, it was clear that stopped there, trapped in the classroom and in the theoretical . As I was of t en the only student of color in my classes, it was hard for me as the majority of the time being the only student of color, to sit in a room full of my white peers that refused to understand that the experien ces of communities of color extend beyond theory. The s am e goes for the literature we were assigned as well a majority of the assigned material was written by white men. I was constantly calling out how only engaging in "know ledge" written by white men instills a hegemonic dominant rhetoric while continuing to perpetuate structures of white supremacy. I felt that it is simply not enough to establish a "social justice" program without the ability to support students of color within the program who faced wi despread microaggressions in multiple university spaces . For example, when I suggested to a white student to incorporate scholars of color or the narratives of communities of color in her research on said communities, my mentor asked me to become more "generous" to my white peers. When suggesting that they should also ask white students to be more "generous" when utilizing the communities of students of color for their own scholarly gains, my mentor told me to think about my intersecting


! 5 identities and to not "burn bridges" as white students were working "hard" in the same fight. How can we as students be ex pected to go out and work within the realms of social justice and alleviate inequities in oppressed communities when we must base it off of the scholarship of white men that do not understand the identities of the communities we want to work for? This ende d with my mentor telling me to reflect on intersectionality as they informed me that they did not think of me as a "student of color". In a nother instance a professor asked me about my research . Upon hearing my response, the professor e xpressed in a surprised manner, "wow you' re very comp etent!" . While i n a philosophy course, it was brought up in class that we read only white philosophers for the semester. T he professor poin ted to how we would be reading some women philosophers and a philosopher of color at the end of the semes ter . However , when t he end of the semester came the professor scrapped those week s ' assignments as we made room for guest speakers whom happen to be white men. When exploring PhD options, an advisor frowned and told me that the programs I had chosen w ere too hard and suggested that I keep looking, implying that my top choices were beyond my reach. This despite the fact that I maintained three jobs, took a full course load over the recommended credit hours while sustaining a 4.0, and not to mention the countless committees that I had been chosen to sit on throughout t hese last two years, it would not be enough to even think about my top choices. Coincidentally at the same time, a white peer who took one class with a part time job was told that they should be looking into top Ivy League schools. White mediocrity was rea l and thriving. When I brought up my racialized identity as it someway connected to the literature or assignments, I would get push back with, "well what


! 6 about poor white folks?". The pain I had experienced with colorblind white professors within my gradua te studies propelled me to constantly reach out and find support from faculty of color. By the end of my program a majority of my peers worked on thesis research that meant to illuminate the inequit ies within communities of color. H o wever, it was c lear to me that these white identifying students, simply utilized communities of color as mere case studies. There was no self actualization on how they contributed to the structures of white supremacy in the academy. When I called out how they exploited of commun ities of color for their own academic benefit, white fragility swept away my own frustrations. Inequities were happening to communities of color "over there" while they did their research "over here" in the ivory towers. My biggest struggles came from the countless instances where white faculty and students also equipped with the same langua ge that I utilized to verbalize my ex periences as a student of color were utilized that language against me. The language I utilized to express the emotionality of my racialized experience was co opted to verbalize white guilt and articulat e the struggles of being a white woman or poor white man. The term intersectionality was a tool now to play oppression olympics amongst white students while ignoring the fact that KimberlÂŽ C renshaw (1997) coined the term specifically for the intersection of the racial and gendered identity of black wome n. Theories and language made and written by scholars of color for students of color were now repackaged within the image of whiteness and th rown back at me. Critical Race Theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, intersectionality, white privilege, all now used to discredit the emotionality of my experiences in graduate school. However, I was asked to speak up and be vulnerable in sharing my experie nces of a woman of color but how could I do that when my experiences and my identity were being co opted?


! 7 It took a lot of work for me to think about who and why I am doing this work for. It was not for the approval of white professors or the white institu tion, it was and still is for my community. While my experiences with white faculty, students, and the institution was painful, I realized this was not about them as individuals but symptomatic of a larger issue permeating throughout society and specifical ly within higher educational spaces. The alienation, lack of support, and dismissal of my racial identity made for times where I questioned my very existence within post secondary education Ð if I even belonged in this space as my experience clearly showed me that these spaces were not meant for me. The element of "choosing my own graduate educational journey" through an interdisciplinary program had me grappling with the idea that I had no room to fail because I had the "choice" to do well by taking course s across disciplines that I chose. There was no accou ntability on the institution itself to hire for inclusiveness or provide the space for their students of color, the responsibility of success was on the students themselves. The ways in which I was made to feel like just like "every other student" as my racial identity was dismissed led me to struggle to contribute in class because my experiences as a person of color were not relevant or was performative . Though I was seeing students of color represented wit hin my institution's pamphlets, on the website, and plastered in marketing throughout the city, how is that I felt so isolated on my campus that fostered "diversity" and "inclusion"? It was only when I met other stude nts of color that I felt like a weight was l ifted from my shoulders because they too understood the struggle of racial battle fatigue. We were in this together; we had created a community where we were able to explore the ways our racialized identities could be legitimized within higher education. I attribute my success and modes of survival as a student to the faculty and students of color that humanized my experiences of


! 8 microaggressions, feelings of isolation, imposter syndrome, and racial battle fatigue that I've faced throughout the past two yea rs. They also bore the emotional labor every time I came to them for support even though I knew that they too experienced racial battle fatigue as their experiences were not far fetched from my own even as faculty. I also learned that not every faculty of color could or would have my back as they too had to adhere to systems of whiteness for their own survival. Also I am thankful to the professor s that exemplified that white folks can indeed also be a pillar of support for students of color by the ways they directly put their bodies on the line physically and verbally . Without this community of stud ents and faculty that supported and legitimized my racial experiences, I would not be the student or person I am today as I continue my studies. Their unwavering and unconditional love and support pushes me to reposition the work for other scholars and stu dents of color as their work has f ueled me Ð with resiliency, e mpowerment and true healing . Within my experiences throughout my graduate studies, I felt that it was crucial for me to illuminate the ways my own journey are the consequences of neoliberal pr inciples grounded within structures of whiteness. Therefore, within this liberatory process of writing my own narrative, it propels me critique oppressive systems working against students of color and open up different ways of healing within the academy.


! 9 Research Question 1. What are the ways that neol iberal principles penetrate academia, specifically within higher educational spaces? ! 2. What does the exis ting literature suggest are ways students of color are affected by neoliberal principl es a nd how these principles uphold structures of whiteness in this space? 3. What are the ways students of color can survive and navigate within neoliberal historically white higher educational spaces? Thesis Organization This thesis will reflect upon Bobbi e Harro's (2008) "Cycle of Liberation" as it explores the ways that people can work towards liberation within oppressive systemic experiences. Harro argues that as people gain a critical understanding of their oppression and/or their roles within the s ystems of oppression, there must be a path of creating social change as they work towards empowerment and lib eration (p. 618). As discussed in the introduction, the purpose of this thesis is to acknowledge and critique oppressive systems that students of c olor face while providing ways in which they can start to heal. Harro writes and provides a visual model for working towards liberation. Grounding liberation as "critical transformation" borrowed from Paulo Freire, Harro's model combines "theory, analysis, and practical experience" on transformational liberation (p. 619). Though Harro's model relies on a more individualistic imagery and language in the first steps of the cycle, I propose that the whole cycle actually centers community as a whole as one refl ects and gain cognition of their own identity.


! 10 Figure 1. This figure is the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. I t explores the ways in which people can work towards liberation within oppressive systemic experiences . My thesis argument is structured on Harro's "Cycle of Liberation". Each chapter focuses on one or two of the steps within the process of the "Cycle of Liberation" . This will not only explore the ways in which students of color can continue the cycle towards liberation but also how myself as the author can reflect on how the process of writing reimagines my own sense of liberation.


! 11 Cycle of Liberation (Harro, 2008) Step 1: Waking up Figure 2. This figure is adapt ed from the "Waking Up" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definition: Often liberation begins when a person begins to experience herself differently in the world than s/he has in th e past. It is marked by an interpersonal change: a change in the core of someone about what s/he believes about her/himself. This may be the result of a critical incident or a long slow evolutionary process that shifts our worldviews. I refer to this phase as the waking up phase. We may experience some form of cognitive dissonance, where something that used to make sense to us (or that we never questioned), ceases to make sense. (Harro, 2008, p. 619) The counter narrative in the introduction to this t hesis serves as the "Waking Up" stage of the cycle as I reflect on how I saw my experience as a graduate student taper off into a completely different experience than I anticipated . My foundations of what higher education could and would be was fund amental ly shifted by an experience of "cognitive dissonance" where the deeply rooted racist structures of education surfaced. !"#$%&'() ' "#$%$&'( ! ! )*&$+,*%!%-'%!&#,'%,.!&/0 *$%$1,! +$../*'*&, ! ! "-'*0,!2$%-$*!%-,!&/#,!/3!4,/4(,!'5/6%! 2-'%!%-,7!5,($,1,!'5/6%!%-,8.,(1,. !


! 12 CHAPTER II THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK This thesis will draw upon the theoretical frameworks of Critical Race theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, and Critical Race Methodology to inform my positionality within this research. I utilize Critical Race Theory as a framework in order to argue how race, racism, and differe nt forms of oppression permeate higher educational spaces that ad here to neoliberal principles. While Critical Race Theory works to deconstruct, Critical Race Methodology according to Sol—rzano and Yosso (2002) provides "theoretically grounded approach to research that a foregrounds race and racism in all aspects of the research process" (p. 24) a method of "doing" Critical Race Theory. Critical Whiteness Studies then repositions racism not as a problem only people of color face but problematizes the very production of racist ideology itself as grounded in "whiteness" an d established as a racial designation and social positions (Delgado & Stefancic, 1997). Through these theoretical fram eworks, I hope to illuminate how experiences of students of color are impacted by the forces of the neoliberalism of education. Critical R ace Theory Cr itical Race Theory (CRT) stem from a "collection of activists and scholars interested in understanding, studying, and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p.3). CRT literature was based in "cr itical theory of law, sociology, history, ethnic studies, and women's studies" while creating a space where race was positioned as the central theme within critical theory (Yosso, 2006). CRT emerged from Critical Legal Studies, based on the borrowed idea o f "legal indeterminacy Ð the idea that not every legal case has one correct outcome" (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p. 5). Yosso (2006) argues that CLS scholars began to "question the role of traditional legal systems in legitimizing oppressive social


! 13 structu res" (p. 71). The shift away from CLS into CRT can be recognized by CLS's lack of social transformation from its failure to incorporate race and racism into the discourse (Delgado, 1995; Ladson Billings, 1998). Not to mention the slow moving, narrow interp retations, and delays of legislation as witnessed within Civil Rights era initiatives (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p. 5). The significant difference between CRT and other movements in Civil Rights is that CRT confronts the "liberal order, equality theor y, legal reasoning, and neutral principles of constitutional law" (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p.3). By investigating the group/self interests, economics, and historical discourse within a broader social context. CRT reveals a dominant racial framework that depends on t he acceptance of hegemonic histories that marginalizes different intersections of people. Most importantly CRT scholars argue that, "dominant racial frames, therefore, provide the intellectual road map used by rulers to navigate the always roc ky road of dominant and to derail the ruled from their track to freedom and equality" (p. 26). CRT also works to acknowledge how even now, popular discourse on race in the US is still anchored by the Black/W hite binary. CRT addresses this by e xpanding the dialogue further to include and recognize that struggles and experiences of people of color are multifaceted . Unfortunately, social justice frameworks continue to neglect the diversity of their experiences and struggles (Ellison, 1990). An important concep t that is acknowledged within CRT is the idea of "color blindness" (Bonilla Silva, 2006). "Color blindness" posits that racism can be dismantled by disregarding race and seeing all people as part of one human race. Disregarding race results in the conflati on of the struggles of people of color within class struggles and in the process dismisses ongoing institutional racism and the legacy of historical oppression based on race that continues to affect the life chances of people of color. It is a form of disc rimination in itself. As


! 14 Bonilla Silva (2006) proposes, the idea of color blind racism disregards the systematic discrimination experienced by People of Color. Critiquing "color blindness" reveals a dominant racial framework through the acceptance of hegem onic histories that still leave out different intersections of people. Though CRT began as a movement within legal studies, Delgado and Stefancic (2012) suggests that scholars within the field of education are applying CRT to "understand issues of school d iscipline and hierarchy, tracking, affirmative action, high stakes testing, controversies over curriculum and history, and alterative and charter schools" (p. 7). This thesis builds on this prior body of scholarship by using CRT as a lens to understand pro blems within education, not only to illuminate the ways racial hierarchies are used to organize society (higher education as a microcosm of society), but also how to transform that same structure. Specifically, Daniel Sol—rzano (1997) identifies five tenan ts of CRT when working in the field of education: 1. ! The intercentricity of race and racism with other forms of subordination. 2. ! The challenge to dominant ideology 3. ! The commitment to social justice 4. ! The centrality of experiential knowledge 5. ! The utilization of inte rdisciplinary approaches Within education, CRT should be utilized to inform theory, research, pedagogy, c urriculum and policy Yosso ( 2005 ) urges the application of CRT to education to challeng e existing methods of scholarship by creating a theoretical and analytical framework that "challenges the ways race and racism impact educational structures, practices, and discourses" (p. 74). While often discussions on racism within educational settings understands students and communities of color through a constan t deficit view, Yosso flips this narrative to suggest centering the experiences of peop le of color. In doing so, she validates and acknowledges their experiences as a method of empowering and legitimizing their voices. As hooks (1994) urges us


! 15 to "name our pain", Matias (2013 ) states that this process is necessary to "articulate the liberatory praxis" to start healing from these traumatic experiences (p. 2). By uplifting and illuminating these experiences of oppressive forces faced by students of color, "th ey become empowered participants, hearing their own stories and the stores of others, listening to how arguments against them are framed and learning to make arguments to defend themselves" (Yosso, 2005 , p. 75). CRT centers People of Color and their exper iences, thereby humanizing them. That means that we must recognize difference based on race. It is admitting and bringing to surface that the social construction of racial hierarchies and categories are false entities that define us from the very beginning . By instilling this method of using CRT within my own writing, I hope to apply CRT as a way of naming the oppressive structures within neoliberal higher educational institutions. Critical Race Methodology Critical Race Methodology allows me to apply Cri tical Race Theory within all modes of my research. Critical Race Methodology is a theoretically grounded approach to research established by Daniel G. Sol—rzano and Tara J. Yosso in their article Critical Race Methodology; Counter Storytelling as an Analyt ical Framework for Education Research (2002) by: (a) foregrounds race and racism in all aspects of the research process. However, it also challenges the separate discourses on race, gender, and class by showing how these three elements intersect to affect the experiences of students of color; (b) challenges the traditional research paradigms, text, and theories used to explain the experiences of students of color, (c) offers a liberatory or transformative solution to racial, gender, and class subordination ; and (d) focuses on the racialized, gendered, and classed experiences of students of color. Furthermore, it views these experiences as sources of strength and (e) uses the interdisciplinary knowledge base of ethnic studies, women's studies, sociology, his tory, humanities, and the law to better understand the experiences of students of color. (p. 24)


! 16 First, CRM provides a space to acknowledge the intersections and intercentricity of racialized oppression by revealing the layers of "s ubordination based on race, gender, class, immigration status, surname, phenotype, accent, and sexuality" (p. 25). This method works to help deconstruct neoliberalism's intersectional oppressional struct ures on education. Second, c ritical race methodology works to " challenge dominant ideology". Through the lens of CRT my own personal narrative becomes legible as an example of how students of color grapple with educational institutions positionality within "objectivity, meritocracy, colorblindness, race neu trality, and equal opportunities" (p. 26). Last ly , CRM urges the use of interdisc iplinary knowledge. Thus, I will pull from frameworks grounded within education, ethnic studies, and political science disciplines as I approach ways of survival for students of color within higher education. I will continue to utilize CRM by embedding the counter stories of three different students of color to support how neoliberalism is superimposed onto institutional racism within higher education. I believe it is important to continue to share and e mphasize these and my own narrative are not isolated incidents but are experiences felt across disciplines, public and private higher educational spaces, as well as different identities. Critical Whiteness Studies While racism is commonly understood as something that happens t o people of color, too often the very origins of racist systems go unexplored. Matias (2013) argues that, "race is a two sided coin; one that represents the plight of People of Color a nd the other that represents how normalized the exertions of Whiteness interconnects with the pain of racism." (p. 70). Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) challenges racism from this position to expose white privilege and the production of racist ideology gr ounded in "whiteness" as established as a racial designation and


! 17 social positions (Delgado & Stefanc ic, 1997). Dyer (1997) articulates that , "as long as race is something only applied to non white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm. Other people are raced, we are just people" (Dyer, 1997, p.10). Though CWS might be newer territory stemming from CRT , CWS can be trac ed back as early as the 1930s when Du Bois "criticized the racia l exclusions that was being practiced, and that had been practices, in the same name of Marxism and unionism. Du Bois challenged the common notion of Marxist thought that class relations first and foremost explain the motivations of racial groups" (Allan, 2004, p. 121). It is important to recognize CRT's understanding of certain terms and language utilized within this realm when applying the framework of CWS. For example, David Gillborn (2010) emphasizes the crucial necessity of understanding terms such as "White supremacy" not as a referral to individuals or groups enacting blatant acts of racism/race hatred but instead understanding it in the ways of which "assumptions and practices that constantly privilege the interests of White people but are so deeply rooted that they appear normal to most people in the culture" (p. 5). If we are to work within the CRT framework, we have to simultaneously recognize how whiteness works within society as well. How does the discourse on the relationship between marginalized groups and the dominant group in power shape how dominant groups come to power and sustain it? CWS can tell us the social construction of whiteness and the resilient ties with social status and power. White people have the power to think, speak, feel, and act for all people because they are not able to see their "particularity" in their race (Dyer, 2008, p. 12). Race s exist in relation to one another and our relationship with our racial identity then is developed and is perpetuated. If true, whiteness als o needs to be made apparent just like people


! 18 of color are called out for their racial identity (Thandeka, 1999) in order for transformation/dismantling of op pressive systems of racism to begin. One of the crucial components of CWS recognizes how whiteness len ds the privilege to white people not to deal with racism or having to racially identify themselves (Kivel, 2008) as "Whites are comfortable with constructing racial knowledge when they feel threatened" (Leonardo, 2009, pg. 116). Within this thesis, CWS serves to explain and support the complexities of neoliberal principles as framed within structures of whiteness. CWS aids in the understanding of how neoliberalism dissolves social solidarity (Harvey, 2005) while upholding the illusions of individualism. For example, the notion of "individualism" when reflected within the theoretical frames of CWS, are only afforded to white people while people of color stands as the representatives of their entire community (DiAngelo, 2006, p.177). CWS helps us understan d the tensions between the commodific ation/economization (Brown, 2015 ) of the bodies of black and brown students in the marketing of the institutions juxtaposed by the entrenched foundational structures of whiteness still linger within the academy. Cycle of Liberation (Harro, 2008) Step 2: Getting Ready 984/2,#8,*%!/3!:,(3 ! )*%#/.4,&%$/* ! 9+6&'%$/* ! "/*.&$/6.*,..!;'$.$*0 ! ! <'$*$*0!)*.4$#'%$/* ! =6%-,*%$&$%7 ! "/**,&%$/*.! ! &*++$%&',*"-. ' ! >$.8'*%($*0 ! >$8$*$.-$*0!5,($,3. ! "/((6.$/* ! ?#$1$(,0, ! )*%,#*'($@,+!/44#,..$/* ! >,1,(/4$*0!'*'(7.$.! ! '*+!%//(. !


! 19 Figure 3 . This figure is adapted from the "Getting Ready" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definition: Once we know something, we can't not know it anymore. The process may not begin immediately, but odds are that it will begin at some point. Often the first part of the process involves a getting ready phase. This involves consciously dismantling and building aspec ts of ourselves and our worldviews based on our new perspectives. Processes that are central to this first part of liberation are introspection, education, and consciousness raising. We become introspective to identify which aspects of our beliefs, attitud es, and behaviors, need to be challengedÉ. We may begin to "make sense" of our experiences differently and seek out more chances to explore what we thought we knew, and how it compares to the reality. We may start exercising our questioning and challenge s kills to expand our conscious understanding of the world. (Harro, 2008, p. 621) T his theoretical section provides the "getting ready" stage of the "Cycle of L iberation". The frameworks of CRT, CRM, and CWS provided me with the tools and vocabulary to understand the ways racism works as a mechanism to isolate students of color within higher education. These theoretical frameworks provided me with the tools t o better understand my own positionalit y through my experiences , to better understand the current literature on the neoliberalization of higher education and racism within higher education, and to critique these structures of oppression. I cannot emphasize enough how this step of the cycle was crucial in helping me gain the consciousness as a student to understand how and why students of color struggled within higher education, white institutions, and neoliberal principles. The next chapter I will discuss how neoliberalism intensifies the pre ex isting racial structures through the application of CRT and CWS .


! 20 CHAPTER III NEOLIBERALIZATION AND ITS IMPACTS ON HIGHER EDUCATION This chapter will discuss the principles, consequences, and limitations of neoliberalism and its impact on the educ ational system in the United States. The chap ter will begin as an analysis of the current work written on neoliberalism by drawing from neoliberal theorists Wendy Brown, David Harvey, Henry A. Giroux, Dave Hill and Ravi Kumar, Bronwyn Davies, and others as they offer the foundational groundwork on the structures of neolib eralism and its penetration in higher education. This chapter will focus on the human impacts and consequences stemming from neoliberalism. This analysis will impact an understanding of neo liberalization and its interworking within education that will serve as a basis for the next chapter on how neoliberal principles have been superimposed on an already racism system of higher education and white supremacy. There, we can understand how this further oppresses students of color by these two forces at play. Finally, this chapter will end by examining one example of how the commodification of students of color in universities exemplifies neoliberalism and racism's relationship within higher educa tion. Neoliberalism and its Principles Classical explanations of neoliberalism are based on the reactions towards a welfare state, free market systems, less governmental interventions, and the encouragement of production of everything as it fosters compet ition within an ever growing globalized world. Wendy Brown's Undoing the Demos (2015) specifically dives deeper from the previous surface level dehumanized analyses of neoliberalism to deconstruct how neoliberalism impacts human beings, their relationships , and democracy. She emphasizes that neoliberalism aligns all aspects of existence into economic terms and configures every aspect of human life on structures of a


! 21 market place Ð this includes, "vocabularies, principles of justice, political culture, habit s of citizenship, practices of rule, and above all, democratic imaginaries (p. 17). Under this intent, human relationships, culture, equality, power, and identities become economized in ways where spheres within human life that we might not have imagined t ake on an economic structure. O n a macro level this privileges the interests of multi national corporations and private property owners over the interests of social life and democracy while bringing all actions and behaviors under the force of market (Harv ey, 2005). On a micro level, neoliberalism's rejection of governmental interve ntions and its esteeming for multi national corporations, crumbles social solidarity. It does so by commodifying public goods, propagating materialism and consumerism (Giroux, 20 04). First, it is important to note that the individual and the state under neoliberalism begin s to replace political ideals with economic ends for capital enhancement which then infiltrates into the realms of "justice, liberty, equality, fairness, indivi dual, sovereignty, and even the rule of law" (Brown, 2015, p. 22). The individual and state must now maximize their capital value through practices of "entrepreneurialism, self investment, and/or attracting investors" (p. 22). The alternative is to face th e fight for survival at the risk of impoverishment and creditworthiness which simply reinforces the idea that we must as persons have some inherent value to our society. Brown lays out the ways in which neoliberal practices and politics have impacted the i ndividual and the state (Brown, 2015, p. 28): 1. ! Ensemble of economic policies 2. ! Deregulations of industry and capital flows 3. ! Radical reduction in welfare state provisions Ð protections for the vulnerable compromised 4. ! Privatized and outsourced public goods Ð edu cation, parks, postal services, roads, and social welfare to prisons and militaries 5. ! Replacement of progressive with regressive tax and tariff schemes 6. ! End of wealth distribution as an economic or social political policy


! 22 7. ! Conversion of every human need or des ire into a profitable enterprise Ð example: college admissions, human organ transplants, baby adoptions, pollution rights, avoiding lines, legroom on airplanes 8. ! Financialization of every and the increasing dominance of finance capital over productive capita l in the dynamics of economy and everyday life 9. ! Shifts from an idea of Ôexchange' to foster competition and grounds it as normative behavior So where do we see these principles play out within our society? Brown (2015) points to President Obama in his seco nd term, framing his "We the People" inauguration speech to illuminate those who have been marginalized and left out of the discourse of the "American Dream". In his speech, he acknowledges the marginalized identities of "class, race, sexuality, gender, di sability, or immigration status" (p. 24). Though bringing to surface how historically disenfranchised communities must be protected, President Obama frames the issues facing these groups in terms of their salvation through economic growth within the Americ an marketplace. He recognizes the necessity for reform within education, immigration, gender equality, and justice. Making an investment in education, he suggests will reduce the amount of violent crimes and teen pregnancies. This will propel children to o btain good jobs in the beginning while working towards obtaining middle class status. Schools he also suggests, will be incentivized for partnering with colleges and employers for building programs that focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pathways that are coveted by "today's employers". Immigration reform is proposed as a way to "harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants" (p. 26) while simultaneously attracting skilled entrepreneurs and highly skilled engineer s. Economic growth is at the center of how he advocates for gender equality, "W ives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination and fear of domestic violence" when economic growth perpetuates higher wages, reinvigorating factory t owns, which


! 23 leads to strengthening families by "removing financial deterrents to marriage for low income couples and doing more to encourage fatherhood" (p. 26). Ironically, though Obama highlights marginalized groups within the US and proposes government al reforms to protect them, he turns them and their experiences in to human capital for the national economy as a means to achieve, "justice" and "equality". The inequality marginalized communities face may be addressed when and if they are able to advance the economy Ð the business and the capital of "justice issues" to perpetuate human capital into the system as a means to an end. Every aspect of life has become economized, "as Ôcaring' becomes a market niche, green and fair trade practices, along with (m iniscule) profit diversion to charity, have become the public face and market strategy of many firms todayÉ'social responsibility' which must itself be entrepreneurialized, is part of what attracts consumers and investors" (p. 27). This commitment to equal ity and inclusion of the "American Dream" are projects of economic growth and human capital enhancement. Thus, the application of these neoliberal principles Brown (2008) argues has four distinct detrimental i mpacts : 1. ! Intensified Inequality Ð The gap betwee n the wealthy and the poor further grows as the wealthy retain their wealth as the poor continues to be pushed out into the streets or within growing urban slums. The middle class strives for stability as they work more and more hours even as they face dim inishing pay and benefits only to hold out for the promise of upward mobility and future retirement. This does not take into account the effects on marginalized communities based on race, gender, sexuality, ability, and citizenship status that also impacts an individual's life chances. 2. ! Unethical Commercialization Ð Referring back to how all aspects of life becomes economized, unethical commercialization stems from thing s in life that are considered inappropriate for "marketization". This marketization cont ributes to human exploitation, dehumanization, while putting up for market aspects of life that should be accessible and shared including education, space, infrastructure, and health among others . It's the question of illuminating the aspects of life that should not be for sale. 3. ! Relationship of Corporate and Finance Capital with the State Ð This critiques the ever growing intimate relationships of corporate dominance within political and economic policies. The relationship shapes the illusions of "choice" c itizens are given within society. For this thesis, thinking about the ways education is funded and who is doing


! 24 the funding, which texts are utilized backed by corporate mass publishing companies, and the rhetoric of school "choice". 4. ! Economic Havoc Ð Econo mic havoc by the domination of financial capital which acts within destabilizing effects of inherent economic bubbles and other dramatic natural fluctuations of the markets. For this thesis, I will be concentrating on the impacts and consequences of ne oliberalism as it relates to the suppression and utilization of students of color within universities. Neoliberalization of Education David Harvey (2 007) inquires how and where the neoliberal turn occur red in our society. He argues that "powerful ideolog ical influences circulated through corporations, the media, and the numerous institutions that constitute civil society Ð universities, schools, churches, and professional associations" (p . 40). Brown too, discusses how neo liberalization encroached onto within the roots of society through the "workplace, schools, public agencies, social and political discourse, and above all, the subject" (Brown, 2015, p. 36). For this thesis, we will explore specifically the neoliberal impacts on higher education and its transformation within this structure through its effects on the institution, students, and the production of research. First, the expansion of public higher education in the 20 th century in the United States, stood as a positive example of the investment of education by the government. During this time, this expansion opened doors and opportunities for communities that were once excluded from higher education such as; women, people of color, and poor whites. Now, Brown (2015) argues that it is no surprise that universities have radically transformed and have been revalued in the past few decades. Specifically, the reasons why one seeks out higher education is now based on the ideology of "return on investment" as a primary driver versus the desire to devel op the mi nd, soul, and to cultivate culture through knowledge as valued by past students. Brown argues, "the saturation of higher education by market rationality has converted higher education from a social


! 25 and public good to a personal investment in indiv idual futures, futures constructed maintaining in terms of earning capacity" (p. 181). For example, in the United States, a phenomenon of informal ranking systems has created new values for choosing higher educational institutions where college quality h as been replaced with "best bang for the buck" rankings provided by outlets such as "Kiplinger's Personal Finance to Princeton Review and Forbes Magazine" (p. 23). These measures of educational quality have been oriented and centered on the "return investm ent" entirely. Brown also points to the increase of online universities that are now a co mpetitor to public universities. Schools such as Phoenix University and Kaplan University are direct, stripped away versions of publi c universities today. Their vocati onal training model promises without the "cultural capital, citizenship capacities, or abstract value" or the expansion of critical thought. Second, within this understanding of "investment return" as the center of higher education, I question, " what does this do to the students "? Giroux (2002) emphasizes that the university is not simply just a place to produce knowledge but to play an instrumental role in shaping a student's identity. However, this reshaping of the institution under neoliberal principles creates an environment of market formulation of an identity of winners and losers as it diminishes the understanding of self. Public higher education Brown argues, "cannot see the ways in which we have lost a recognition of ourselves as held together by l iteratures, images, religions, histories, myths, ideas, forms of reason, grammers, figures, and languages. Instead, we are presumed to be held together by technologies and capital flows" (p. 188). Saunders (2010) claims that universities occupy a crucial r ole as one of producers and disseminators of legitimate knowledge in society. Therefore, under a neoliberal system, students are vulnerable to the hegemony of increased "individualistic goals and extrinsic benefits as consumers" (p. 4). This


! 26 furthers a stu dent's need to maintain the status quo rather than constructing alternative realities and work towards change as neoliberal principles continues to penetrate and anchor itself in higher education. Third, students also have been reduced to mere commodities themselves within the institution. Giroux (2002) gives an example of how students are monetized as the push for online based learning has been encouraged within universities currently. Giroux discusses a university where an online Spanish class was create d in which over 500 students took part in. Students were allowed to take year one and two virtually, paying full tuition, without setting foot into a classroom. Once they reached advanced levels of the language curriculum online courses were no longer offe red, requiring students to step into the classroom for the first time . At this point, it became apparent to the professors of the advanced level courses that these students had learned virtually nothing from the preliminary online courses. When professors petitioned the university to cancel these online courses because of high number of students failing advanced courses, university did not address the professors' concerns but instead urged students to take the courses over again, paying full tuition for the repeated courses 1 . Universities now do not have to provide support for students to succeed by gaining knowledge but providing them with check marks on their required courses towards completion. Just as students do not have to expect the institution to giv e them knowledge, but the promise of future capital. Giroux (2002) and Brown (2015) also gives us another example of economization within higher education through corporate partnerships and research incentives. As state funding for 1 This is not just a t rend within online courses. See Selingo (2018), demonstrates that this trend of students to retaking courses spre ad throughout all campus spaces.


! 27 higher education declines year aft er year, public universities seek out private and corporate funders . The nu mber of "endowed chairs funded by major corporations and rich corporate donors" directly impact s the types of research funded by the university, which departments are prioritized, as well as plays a crucial role in determining which faculty receive fundin g based on donor preferences. With the increasing influence that corporations have in universities, their operations, business principles, revenue generation, and free market methodologies also restructure the university and its relationship with students and faculty (Saunders 2007). To summarize, Brown (2015) makes an important argument on th e state of US higher education: U niversities have been transformed into two dominant conceits in the US : 1. ! We no longer governed by the idea that upward mobility and mi ddle class status require schooling in the liberal arts 2. ! Well educated public, one that has the knowledge and understanding to participate thoughtfully in public concerns and problems, has gone the way of public goods and provisions themselves. As it dispen ses with the very idea of the public, neoliberal rationality recognizes and interpellates the subject only as human capital, making incoherent the idea of an engaged and educated citizen (p. 182 ). As universities serve as microcosms of society, the deteri orating spaces of self discovery for students breaks down social solidarity more generally as neoliberalism favors a form of hyper i ndividualism positioned by neoliberalism for students as sole benefactors of consumption. Universities now reflect market sy stems t hat focus on investment returns instead of the expansion of the mind. Higher education now acts as an economic machine that produces human capital and this has revolutionized the university. Coupling the neolibe ralization of higher education with t he institutionalized racism already present in this space, I argue that students of color endure oppression two fold. In the next chapter, I will illuminate how these two forces work together to further inhibit success of students of color and limit their chances of liberating themselves from these systems.


! 28 Limitations When exploring the terms of democracy and neoliberalism, many scholars address the limitations surrounding these theories. It is acknowledged that these terms are always shifting within the ir own spaces (Harvey 2007). They are not fixed and have multiple origins and practices based on the, "temporal and geographical variety in its discursive formations, policy entailments, and material practices" (Brown, 2015, p. 20). Therefore, it is import ant to note that the principles laid out in this section will serve as the definitions that I will base my critique of neoliberalism and the neoliberalization of education through the lens of my theoretical approach (CRT, CWT, CRM). Their global definition is ubiquitous but is "disunified and nonidentical with itself in space and over time" It is as Brown suggests, the "uneven ness" and "its lack of self identity, its spatial and temporal variability, and above all, its availability to reconfiguration Ð are important to underscore in an argument focused on its iteration in the time we may call contemporary and the place we may call the Euro Atlantic world" (p. 21). Cycle of Liberation (Harro, 2008) Step 2 : Getting Ready 984/2,#8,*%!/3!:,(3 ! )*%#/.4,&%$/* ! 9+6&'%$/* ! "/*.&$/6.*,..!;'$.$*0 ! ! <'$*$*0!)*.4$#'%$/* ! =6%-,*%$&$%7 ! "/**,&%$/*.! ! &*++$%&',*"-. ' ! >$.8'*%($*0 ! >$8$*$.-$*0!5,($,3. ! "/((6.$/* ! ?#$1$(,0 , ! )*%,#*'($@,+!/44#,..$/* ! >,1,(/4$*0!'*'(7.$.! ! '*+!%//(. !


! 29 Figure 4. This fi gure is adapted from the "Getting Ready" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. This theoretical section provided the "getting ready" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation". Just as the last c hapter which focused on the theoretical frameworks, I believe the exploration of current understandings of neoliberalism and the neoliberalization of education is necessary to process consciousness of the reality that is present currently. It equips the re ader with the education and realization of the internalized oppression and privileges that work within neoliberalism and spaces of education


! 30 CHAPTER IV NEOLIBERALIZATION AND RACISM IN HIGHER EDUCATION This chapter will explore how students of color endure a two fold of oppressive systems present within higher education throug h historical systemic racism and the neoliberal principles that have penetrated education. I believe that the processes of hyper i ndividualism and the fostering of the "myth of c hoice" compound the alienation of students of color in already historically whites spaces of the academy (Brown, 2015). First, I will review the current literature on the elements of racism that covertly permeate higher education. Then, I will refer to the detrimental impacts of neoliberalism (Brown, 2015) la id out in the previous chapter to demonstrate how the commodification of students of color for economic gains through "diversity" and "inclusion" further suppresses students from gaining a liberatory ed ucation/experience as they are utilized as props within the educational market system. Much like my own personal counter storytelling at the beginning of this thesis, I will be analyzing the personal narratives of graduate students of color through out this chapter. These counter stories will serve as examples of the consequences of the two oppressiv e forces at play that suppress the possibilities for students of color to thrive in higher education. By utilizing these examples of students of color in post secondary education program s , I hope to humanize the repercussions of these systemic frameworks working together to alienate and oppress students of color. Specifically, I want to illuminate neolibera lism's demolition of social solidarity and the not ion of community that students of color yearn for in historically white spaces. This chapter will conclude by discussing the ways that students of color are commodified within marketing schemes of the universities to promote "diversity" and "inclusion". T his works


! 31 as intersectional oppression of students of color that create s traps to sustain suppression of students of color while their bodies are becoming unethically commodified. Historical Racism in Higher Education Gloria Ladson Billings and William Tate (1995) first introduced CRT into the field of education. For decades since then, CRT scholars have theorized, examined, and challenged the ways race and racism in education has shaped the foundations of the policies, structures, and pedagogies of scho oling. Many scholars of CRT in education (Ladson Billings & Tate , 1995; Delgado & Stefancic, 20 1 2 ; Muse us 2015; Sol—rzano & Yosso, 2002 ) have provided frameworks and tools to understand and illuminate the ways "higher education systems can function to oppr ess people of color and understand how college educators and activists can more effectively approach diversity initiatives" (Museus, 2015, p.17). Museus (2015) highlights the importance of understanding the history to contextualize the full impact and evol ution of racism within the study of education. Thus, it was Du Bois who pioneered the relationship between racism and education. He was among the first to critique the study of racism and education through the scientific method Ð specifically on the experi ences of African American students engaged in their pursuit of higher education (Museus, 2015): There are many public school systems in the North where Negroes are admitted and tolerated, but they are not educated; they are crucified. They are certain Nor thern universities where Negro students, no matter what their ability, desert [sic], or accomplishment, cannot get fair recognition, either in the classroom or on the campus, in dining halls and student activities, or in common courtesy (Du Bois, 1935, p. 424) In many ways, Du Bois provided the critical foundation for the study of racism in higher education today and how racism served as a structure in higher education (Museus, 2015). CRT scholarship in postsecondary education centers the voices of people of color in academia whether it be the students, faculty, staff, or policy makers (Sol—rzano, 1998; Sol—rzano,


! 32 Ceja, & Yosso, 2000). Scholars have challenged the color blind institutions o f higher education that enable the significant racial problems that exists in these historically white spaces. These problems range from the very land the universities are built upon, taken from the indigenous population and some built by slave labor, to the "nature of racialized spaces on college campuses that privilege the White majority and marginalize people of color" (Museus, 2015). Remna nts of the United States' racist past have a ffected and continues to a ffect current college students today. For example, CRT has worked to identify and problematize the dominant disc ourses in postsecondary education (McCoy & Rodricks, 2015). Museus explains the ways that students of color an d communities of color have combatted the deficit oriented frameworks of their identities. This paradigm represents "people of color as inherently inferior in status, intelligence, and standing to Whites by focusing on failure as a result of the dispositions of students of color while ignoring how systemic factors shape their educational opportunities and outcomes" (Valencia, 1997). This serves to p rivilege white values and norms in the discourse of education thus perpetuating white supremacy within all aspects of edu cation. Notably, CRT analysis of h igher education problematizes the rhetoric of meritocracy and color blindness that permeates through post secondary research and discourse. For example, critics have "uncovered how race conscious educational policies often champion meritocracy and color blindness to defend dominant views and values that function to subordinate students of color" (Museus, 2015, p. 26). Here I will highlight a counter story of a PhD student that left academia because of the hegemonic ideologies of his program and department that encapsulates how these ideologies serve to marginalize and discredit students of color in higher education .


! 33 Counter Story: Eugene Park Eugene Park was a PhD student in philosophy that left academia because of his growing frustration of his discipline's unwilling ness to "interrogate" why the discipline lacks diversity among its faculty and students. In his article and personal narrative "Why I left Academia: Philosophy's Homogeneity Needs Rethinking" (2014), Park de lineates the ways that philosophy's homogeneity exists through all levels of this particular discipline. For example, Park observes that t he professors, graduate, and undergraduate students are predominantly white men and he further notes that particularity in the "analytic" department of philosophy, the philosophers studied are exclusivity dead white men. While philosophy often deals with q uestions of "universal truths", the discipline ignores intersectional identities of race, ethnicity and gender. Park articulates his astonishment that professional philosophers are "perplexed" as why there are not more women or students of color in philoso phy. For him, while not all experiences can be monolithic, he claims that it is blatantly clear why there is a lack of diversity in his discipline: "what counts as philosophy" in the first place. As an Asian American student, Park questions why "Indian, E ast Asian, African, or Native American ideas about the nature of the mind" are not typically represented and studied in Philosophical courses and research. In his experience, professional philosophers often view non Western thinkers as sub categories or si mply "inferior" to Western philosophy. They dismiss anything outside Western Philosophy because of "non Western philosophy's unusual and unfamiliar methodology as the primary reason". Park's identity as an Asian American student is important to me in his n arrative. As a student whose critiques are invalidated and whose identity is devalued their chosen discipline , I can understand his frustrations. As he identifies as having a


! 34 background in Buddhist and Confucian thought, he found the dismissal of "Eastern" though t as "personally and deeply offensive". Park's experience illustrates how the discipline is structure d to perpetuate the status quo in deciding on which philosophical thought is "acceptable" and which are deemed "legitimate". While making efforts t o problematize these issues, he was met with reasons why "philosophy is the way it is and why it s hould remain that way" while belied by ignorance and covert racism. In one instance his advisor commented on his discussions of race in his dissertation that she believed that Asian Americans were "basically white" and that she was confounded when he addressed issues of race in philosophy in the f irst place. Simultaneously other professors told him to think about transferring to the Religious Studies or Ethnic Studies department , thus insinuating that such critiques and Park himself had no place in the field of philosophy . By refusing to take respon sibility or accountability by hiring professors open to the idea of broadening the scope of Philosophy that still focuses predominantly on Western ideology and who could properly support Park's research , I believe that this department f ailed Park. His frustrations with his "community" of phil osophers' unwillingness to reflect critically on their lack of diversity even tually led him to leave his program. He concludes that "It's not that women and minorities are (inexplicably) less interested in the Ôproblems of philosophy' Ð it's that women and minorities have not had their fair say in defining what the problems of phil osophy are, or what counts as philosophy in the first place". I relate Park's narrative to Iverson 's (2007) argument that, "the racism that is inherent in such linchpins of dominant ideologies and democratic discourse É unmasks how they, either consciously or unconsciously, camouflage or uphold White power and privilege" (p. 595). Dominant ideologies of disciplines work against students of color especially when they do not


! 35 recognize themselves within their studies as Museus (2015) argues, "dominant narrativ es permeate organizational culture to disadvantage minoritized populations" (p 27). Particularly, when the system of neoliberalism does not allow or favor the expansion of knowledge but works to commodify knowledge f or the highest yield in capital then hig her educational policies covertly sustains racism while concealing its presence in academia. Finally, Museus (2015) proposes different frameworks that can work to change this culture of racism within academia. First, the "Campus Cli mate for Diversity Frame work" that Museus outlines Ð works to understand how the campus racial climate shape s the experiences and identities of students of color. This framework explores the ways in which students of color experiences a sense of belonging, experience hostility on campus, work towards self actualization, and find ways of navigating through an institutional environment "that encompasses campus community members' attitudes, perceptions, behaviors, and expectations in regards to issues of race, ethnicity, and diversit y" (p. 30). Higher education initiatives to promote more divers ity and inclusion often fail to address or even recognize that there is systemic racism that permea tes their institution. With the current trend of promoting and using "diversity" and "inclusio n" initiatives as campus drivers for enrollment, students of color become tokenized as the very face of the institution while support to address the needs of marginalized populations on campus are slimly provided by the institution. Take for example, my o wn university's diversity and inclusion initiatives. The CU Denver's website (2018 ) advertises that students of color represent 59% of new freshmen and 44% of undergraduates. While I feel as though I do see other students of color on campus, this means lit tle when the professor demographics indicate disproportionate 70% of the faculty consists of white identifying educators teaching an increasing number of students of co lor.


! 36 Cherng and Halpin (2016) argue that minority teachers form strong ti es with student s to empower youth of different racial and ethnic identities. They state that, "student perceptions are shaped by their performance, teacher characteristics, teaching conditions and teacher efficacy" (Cherng & Halpin, 2016, p. 5). When comparing the demogr aphics of the student population to the faulty, there is a high disproportionate number of white teachers for the large growing population of students of color . Narratives such as Eric Anthony Grollman's, puts into perspective the importance of finding com munity but the challenges of what happens when you do find those slim instances that you do find a faculty mentor that looks like you and understands your experiences within a racism system that they too must endure: Counter Story: Eric Anthony Grollman E ric Anthony Grollman's article "Playing the Game for Black Grad Students" (2017) distills advise for perspect ive graduate students based on his own personal journe y through his program. In the first line of his article Grollman states that it's no surpris e that racism runs "rampant" through graduate programs like his. Though initially surprised and devastated by actions and words from his fellow colleagues and professors that were riddled with racist undertones, he ultimately concludes that racism is the " norm of academia". He urges new students to find community even before entering a program of study an d to create a support network. Furthermore, he states that having a space to unwind and unload your experiences in graduate school is pivotal to "keeping y our sanity". Grollman asks a crucial question to perspective graduate students when choosing a program, "how much racism" are you willing to experience? While a Historically Black College or University will provide that support, historically white colleges and white male professors may provide better access to jobs, networks, capital, and resources.


! 37 Grollman not only illuminates the challenges for students of color but also the struggles for faculty of color as well. He describ es the catch 22 facing "black scholars who must choose between advancing their careers or advancing their communities" because they are also in these historically white spa ces as well, navigating the same structures of whiteness as well. This leads to Grollman's question of how studen ts of color can balance code switching to successfully navigate through graduate school while maintaining authenticity of self. This echoed a lot of the fear and loneliness that the other articles I analyze mentioned Ð do we as students of color keep our h ead down and obtain those degrees at the risk of losing our authentic selves? However, reflecting on his narrative of "playing the game", I wonder how students of color can build communities even in big populations of students of color present on my c ampu s when the faculty is over represented by white educators that do not understand the alienation felt by students of color? Then, even when students do find faculty of color, these faculty are also "playing the game" and must cope with survival. How does on e maintain an understanding of their racialized identities even in a big population of students of color when the system of authority itself is held up by whiteness? Finally, as I addressed at the beginning of this thesis, CRT in higher education provides the language and tools to voice experiences of students and faculty of color within higher educational spaces that were and still are silenced. While combating daily microaggressions and systemic forces, "CRT has enabled postsecondary scholars in higher ed ucation to name racism as a systemic reality that shapes the experiences of people of color within post secondary institutions" (Museus, 2015, p. 27, Ledesma & Sol—rzano, 2013). Next, I will address the ways that neoliberalism perpetuates white supremacy i n its penetration into education.


! 38 Neoliberalization of Education, Whiteness, and the Commodification of Students of Color CRT scholars place "special emphasis on understanding how communities of color experience and respond to racism as it intersects with other forms of subordination in the U.S. educational system" (Yosso et. al, 2004, p. 3) and for this thesis and section, I identify these other forms of subordination as the neoliberalization of education. Pointing out or illuminating socio, political an d economic inequalities within the academy is considered disruptive be havior within the neoliberal order of higher education because it asks the institution to engage in critical thought versus on the return of economic capital. Brown (2015) suggests that "neoliberalism's world flattening force worked to undermine discourses of difference Ð whether these were predicated on class, skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, or political ideology. Through neoliberalism's neat and ord erly morality of the marketplace and its professed cultural superiority, all historical forms of political economic inequalities and social exclusions seemed washed away in the pristine belief in the sanctity of individual private interests and the doctrin e of free enterprise" (p. 419). As individualism thrives within the neoliberal model that undermines difference, Olssen and Peters (2005) argue that neoliberalism puts an emphasis on the individual through "a view of individuals as economically self intere sted subjects. In this perspective, the individual was represented as a rational optimizer and the best judge of his/her own interests and needs" (p. 314). I argue that t his "individual self interest" and the processes of individualism in neoliberalism is a privilege afforded only to white people (DiAngelo, 2016). Further, people of color become the representation of their entire community as opposed to whites who are able to focus on being individuals and conceptualize "racist patterns in our behavior as Ô just our personality' and not connected to intergroup dynamics" of people of color (p. 177).


! 39 Next, Brown (2015) reflects how where once higher education was created to share space for "developing intelligent, thoughtful elites and reproducing culture, and more recently, enacting a principle of equal opportunity and cultivating a broadly educated citizenry, higher education now produces human capital, thereby turning classically humanist values on their head" (p. 24). However, I problematize this conclusion because there needs to be a reflection on how we think "equal opportunity" is rendered for students of color within this system. Though Brown argues higher education as it "once was", I contend that higher education for students of color was and still a s pace to reproduce white culture and not their own. Not only does neoliberalism of education turn humanist values on "its head" as Brown suggests, for students of color, they still must carry society's dominant hegemonic principles at the same time. Student s of color are told that it is desirable to assimilate and acculturate into whiteness, however, even if they do, they are denied access to the benefits and privileges of society because they will never be white (Sue, 2006). So I ask, was higher education e ver truly a space for students of color to "develop intelligent, thoughtful elites and reproduce culture" as whites had the privileges to? It is contradictory for universities to use bodies of students of color as forms of commodified "diversity" and "in c lusion" in higher education while "neoliberal multiculturalism enact structure of public recognition, acknowledgement and acceptance of multicultural subjects based on an ethos of self reliance, individualism, and competition, while simultaneously and conv eniently undermining discourses and social practices that call for collection social action and fundamental structural change" (Darder, 2012, p. 417) . As discussed previously, neoliberalism detrimenta l l y impacts society specifically within education, I exa mine the "Unethnical Commodification" Ð that of students of color. Brown (2015) asserts that "inclusion inverts into competition, equality into inequality, freedom into deregulated marketplaces, and


! 40 popular sovereignty is nowhere to be found" (p. 42) throu gh neoliberalism. Though these market place p rinciples are embedded into structures of education, it is interesting to reflect on how "inclusion", "equalit y", and "diversity" are used as tools to commodify even if they are undermined by neoliberal principl es. To demonstrate how this translates to the lived experiences of students of color , I reflect upo n my own university once again. I n 2017, CU Denver launched their new marketing campaign "CU in the City". According to the official CU Denver website, this campaign highlights the " high quality education CU Denver offers students in the heart of Denver at Colorado's only public urban research university " . At its core, there was a f ocus on the diversity and richness of the student body community even calling out students to become "brand champions". More than 40 students and faculty were featured in marketing posters, radio, television commercials, and online narratives, in this advertising campaign . Most notably when the campaign first launched, a photo of a black student surfaced on a billboard downtown with the words "street smarts included with every degree" . Backlash by students ensued because of of how this advertisement perpetuated the stereotypes of black bodies linked to the negative connotation of str eet gangs (Yancy, 2016) . Quickly, the campaign poster was changed to a new tagline, "academic rigor meets city vigor". Another advertisement, depicted black students holding a sign stating "defy expectations " as if there was a norm established that black s tudents could not meet expectations within higher education in the first place. Not to mention the countless students of color plastered throughout the campaign across campus and on the buildings downtown adjacent to the campus. This example exemplifies Br own's (2015) detrimental impacts of neoliberalism: Unethical Commercialization. This refers back to how all aspects of life becomes economized, unethical commercialization stems from things in life that


! 41 are considered as inappropriate to be cycled through "marketization". This marketization co ntributes to human exploitation and dehumanization, while putting up for market aspects of life that should be accessible and shared , such as education, space, infrastructure, and health to name a few. It's the questio n of illuminating the aspects of life that should not be for sale. Ahmed (2012) suggests we look critically at the ways "diversity" and "inclusion" have been institutionalized and marketed a s a norm with no deeper meaning harnessing no depth . In other wor ds, d iversity becomes routine and performative. Ahmed argues that "the shift to the language of diversity could thus be understood in market terms; diversity has a commercial value and can be used as a way not only of marketing the university but of making the university in a marketplace" (p. 53). Thus diversity initiatives that are no more than marketing strategy effectively c onceal s the perpetuation of systematic inequality within universities . T he faces and bodies of students of color at the center of th ose marketing strategies be come crucial in the work of diversity as it provides t he "aest hetic realm of appearance" suggesting diversity initiatives are grounded in a moral value. Diversity then evok es the pleasures of consumption Ð it allows difference to be celebrated, consumed, and eaten by the body of the university and by individuals present within that space (hooks, 1992). The bodies of students of color maintain institutional structures of "diversity" ra ther than working to transform the institutions . A s noted by Brown (2015), the notion of difference within neoliberalism is dismissed. I believe t his campaign exemplifies how minorities are on display within this university marketing initiative. Students of color and faculty alike are asked to posed fo r photographs for the new marketing campaign to generate and craft a narrative of "diversity" at the institution however, diversity has become nothing more than performance . Leonardo (2009) refers to this act as "minority on display " . Nguyen and Duran (201 8) urges us to think critically about the


! 42 implications of the narratives the university would like to tell by utilizing the bodies of students of color. Are they interested in the personal narratives and experiences of their students or could we also be sk eptical about whether or not the university has provided a scripted story they would like to tell using the bodies of students of color to recruit prospecti ve students, faculty, and staff? Nguyen and Duran (2018) would suggest that, "t he person of color na rrative becomes appropriated and repackage d to sell seats in a classroom" and these acts of tokenization and the unethical commodification of students of color serves as an example of what Mills (2007) " describes as pervasive ignorance by intentionally fur thering a diverse narrative using only amputated parts of people of color " (p. 116) . Most importantly, as neoliberalism, whiteness, performative diversity, and dominant hegemonic discourses all work together to the detriment of students of color, " a s a re sult, people of color are reduced to only those amputated parts of self, disregarding the intersectionality an d complexity o f their humanity" (p. 116). They are unable to self actualize and obtain a liberatory experience within higher education because the forces of whiteness and neoliberalism create barriers for them in their institutional life. Diversity actually creates an illusion of "equality". Ahmed explains how the emptiness of diversity reveals the lack of pragmatic political value ( Ahmed, 2012, p. 79). Thus, because the word is circulated endlessly, she suggests nobody really understands what it really means. We must be careful not to utilize the word near words such as "whiteness, equality, and racism" as the marketing saturation of diversity has b een long cut off from the mission of universities. However, I do believe there are ways of comba t ting these atrocities against of students of color. In the n ext chapter, I will discuss how the element of community can work to help students of color survive in these hostile environments.


! 43 Cycle of L iberation (Harro, 2008) Step 3: Reachi ng Out Figure 5. This figure is adapted from the "Reaching Out" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of libe ratory practices. Definition: As we pass the getting ready stage, it becomes necessary for us to seek experiences outside ourselves in order to check our reality to expose ourselves to a wider range of difference than we had before. We need to practice u sing our skills and tools with others, and experiment with expressing our new views, and speaking out when we disagree, instead of staying silent. This reaching out phase provides us with feedback about how our new worldviews will be met by others. We may get pressure from some to stop making waves, and accept the status quo, and we may get encouragement and new friends as a result of taking a stand on something we were quite about before. (p. 621) In this step, there is a m ovement out of self and towards others while seeking experience, exposure , and speaking out and naming injustices . We achieved this by utilizing the theoretical frameworks of CRT, CWT, and CRM to understand the intersecting systems of neoliberalism and racism at play within higher educat ion. This chapter also exposes how my own university works to commodify the bodies of students of color. This chapter applies theoretical frameworks to call out inequities. ,*"/0$%&'1(+ ' A/1,8,*%!/6%!/3!.,(3!%/2'#+.!/%-,#. ! :,,B$*0!,C4,#$,*&,!'*+!,C4/.6#, ! :4,'B$*0!/6%!'*+!*'8$*0!$*D6.%$&,. ! ! E'B$*0!.%'*+.!6.$*0!%//(.! ! 9C4(/#$*0!'*+!,C4,#$8,*%$*0 !


! 44 Cycle of Li beration (Harro, 2008) Step 4: Building Community Figure 6. This figure is adapted from the "Building Community" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definition: The interpersonal phase of the liberation pro cess is marked by a change in how we value others and interact with them on a regular basis. It is the phase of building community, and consists of two steps: first, finding support by dialoguing with people who have the same social identities as we do with regard to the issue of op pression, and second , and dialoguing with peop le who are different from us to gain understanding and building coalitions. This phase is characterized by the creation of an ongoing dialogue, where views are exchanged, people are listened to and valued, and we begin to view each other's points of view as making sense and having integrity, even if they are different from our own. To build community with people who are like us, we seek out people who may have experiences similar to our own, and talk with them to see how they made sense of their experiences and what we might learn from them. (p. 622) By including the narratives of other graduate students of color and relating them to my own , this chapter served as a way of building community. The humanization of the experiences of students of color allowed me to reflect on my own experiences with narratives like mine from across the country. This chapter and the narratives of students of color created a space to name F/#B$*0!2$%-!/%-,#.G ! HI ?,/4 (,!($B,!6. ! JI ?,/4(,!+$33,#,*%!3#/8!6. ! K6$(+$*0!&/'($%$/*. ! L6,.%$/*$*0!'..684%$/*.M!#6(,.M!#/(,.M!'*+! .%#6&%6#,.!/3!.7.%,8. ! 2($3-$%&' /144(%$+. ' !


! 45 the pain. As articulated before, Matias (2015) states that this process is necessary to "articulate the liberatory praxis" if we want to start healing from these traumatic experiences (p. 2). By making those connections of similar experiences, students of color can become empowered as these stories bre ak down the isolation they feel within systems of oppression.


! 46 CHAPTER V WAYS OF COMBATING AND SURVIVAL THROUGH COMMUNITY I start by sharing this last narrative of the experiences of Milan Jones through a summary of her articles : Counter Story: Ciarra Jones In Ciarra Jones' articles, "Grad School Is Trash for Students of Color and We Should Talk About That" (2017) and "The Verdict is in: Black and Brown Graduate Students Are Profoundly Unhappy. What Now?" (2018) the self identifying Black Queer Woman tells her story of what it feels like to be a graduate student in a top Ivy League institution. She urges her fellow classmates to do better, calling them out to not just theorize people of color but to actually humanize them within the classroom. Jones ' o lder brother who is also in a PhD program , warned her about the pitfalls of academia. She expected graduate school to consist of "analyze theory from an intersectional framework, one that took into consideration the ways in which race, class, sex, gender, and more interact with various social phenomena". She goes further to state that e ven if her classmates lacked understanding of the former she did not expect blatant racist incidences to occur. Jones truly believed that the graduate school classroom would afford opportunities to move discussions beyond abstract theory to an understanding of how real communities and people are affected by the research they would produce in academia. However, Jones recalls how her classmates theorized and analyzed about Black folks as an "amorphous concept". She states perfectly that her classmates would react to her emotionality of pain and hurt as they read racist articles with "yes this is racist, but I will still use this article to further my own research and maximize my personal scholastic gain". This exemplifies how students in scholarship utilize big names within their respective fields for their own benefit in


! 47 hopes to publish and gain legitimacy. Jones problematizes the incorporation of racist research materials by he r classmates for their scholarly gains without consideration of how this affects the Black body. Jones concludes with two thoughts at the end of her first article with these two important statements. First, "higher learning is intentionally structured to p reclude white people from truly interacting with Black people and people of color". White students can read and theorize about communities of color without actually interacting with them. Second, "white students freeze and become fearful because they can t heorize us, they can write about us, they can work on us, they can work upon us, but they cannot work with us". A statement where I felt like someone had put into words how I personally felt throughout my graduate experience. When asking to include works b y scholars of color and narratives of people of color, it's met with confusion and asked why they must do so? In Jones' second article, she reflects on the responses she received after her first article went viral. She responded on two common themes, "lone liness and a lack of institutional support". In this follow up piece, Jones focuses specifically on speaking to her Black, Brown, and QTPOC students to offer ways to "cultivate their holistic well being while in academia". Her priority for this piece was t o elevate her colleagues. From this article, the important take away on how to combat the loneliness and lack of support Jones illuminates within student of color face were, "1. Be Kind to Yourself, 2. Find Your Community, 3. Compile a Reading List, 4. Tak e a Break and/or Leave". Her strategies were grounded in ways to combat racial battle fatigue . Racial battle fatigue coined as "a natural response to distressing mental/emotional work when facing consistent hostile classroom challenges and confrontations, potential threads or dangers under tough or


! 48 violent and potentially life threatening conditions" (Smith, 2004, p. xvii). To survive in these conditions, Jones proposes grounding why students of color want to be in academia and why they should be celebrated daily. Finding community, she urges, will help support you in the "fear, pain, isolation, and fatigue" that is awaiting us in these historically white institutions. Reading authors that speak and resonate with your personal academic lens will affirm you w hen the reading list for a course leaves you out. And lastly, Jones emphasizes that "your success and self worth are not contingent on your program". Your problematizing of your program does not make you "ungrateful or weak" it makes you self aware and not to shy away from the questions that are hard to ask because "you deserve to ask them". This article following up her first article speaks volumes in the ways where students of color feel like they do not belong in their institutions. A focus on the commu nity is where I believe changes the ways students of color can survive and endure neoliberalism and racism in higher education. Even upon reading her narratives positioned me to think differently and relieved my tension of my own education and program. It was in a search out of desperation where I searched for anything that fit the emotions and racial battle fatigue I was going through as I felt isolated within the classroom and unable to voice my frustrations within discussions. The idea that across the co untry, someone that experienced the things I had in my own institution can actualize my existence then affirm my experiences and made me feel like I was a part of a community that understood my experiences. This idea of community making and bringing value into the communities of color is where I believe works as survival and coping methods for students of color within higher education. This chapter presents a method of combating neoliberal systems of oppression on students of color by introducing Tara J. Y osso's Community Cultural Wealth (2006).


! 49 Recognizing that neoliberalism fosters individualism over social solidarity for students in higher education, I propose that Yosso's method of introducing the element of community will propel students of color to st art their journey into a safer spaces, build coping mechanisms, and self actualization and positionality within higher educational spaces. Survival and Ways of Combating While the deconstruction of racism and neoliberal structures can often pave a trajecto ry in to a deficit inducing image of communities of color, f ortunately, scholars such as Tara J. Yosso (2005) works to challenge these dominant narratives by flipping the conversation away from deficit oriented discourses of communities and students of col or. I propose that to do this work of building strength within students of color, t here is a need for support groups and educators that look like them and an action of seeking out based on ethnicity or race create "homeplaces" hooks (1994 ) would argue. Mak ing a "homeplace" is about constructing a safe place where in her example, "black people can affirm one another Ð healing inflicted by racist domination" (hooks, 1994 , p.384). She includes that learning to love yourself is hard to grow and develop in a whi te supremacy culture upheld in many higher educational institutions. I believe Yosso has created a model for creating community or "homeplace" through her work of "Community Cultural Wealth" (2005). Yosso (2005) conceptualizes the community cultural wealt h model as a CRT challenge to "traditional interpretations of cultural capital" (p. 69). She shifts the deficit view of communities of color and centers the cultural "knowledge, skills, and abilities and contacts possessed by socially marginalized groups t hat often go unrecognized and unacknowledged" (p. 69). Community cultural capital is framed within various forms of capital Ð aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial, and resistant capital. These forms of capital specifically acknowledge


! 50 t he ways in which students of color bring knowledge as assets from their communities and identities. This model of centering the knowledge provided by communities of color builds upon the strengths of these communities while equipping students of color to r ecognize the community they have on campus and their lives to help guide them through hostile environments. Yosso (2005) builds the foundation of her work by asking the question , "whose knowledge counts and whose knowledge is discounted?" (p. 69). Yosso p ulls from Pierre Bourdieu's (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977) theoretical insights on cultural capital, which argues how "a hierarchical society reproduces itself" by addressing the debate through the context of social inequalities (p. 70). However, Bourdieu's i nterpretation concludes that the academic and social outcomes of people of color are significantly lower than the outcomes of whites. This follows an assumption that the necessity for "social mobility" is absent within communities of color. Bourdieu theori zes that there access to "social mobility" is lacking within communities of color because of the social deficits present in these communities. This deficit thinking of communities of colo r in education take position: 1. ! Students enter school without the norma tive cultural skills 2. ! Parents neither value nor support their child's education (p. 75) 3. ! Communities of color are often defaulted into the banking method of education (Freire, 1973) Bourdieu frames cultural capital as knowledge that is deemed valuable and a ccessible to the middle and upper class which in turn provides the potential for social mobility Ð favoring white middle and upper class populations. Utilizing Bourdieu's theory as a model, Yosso reframes his point by recentering knowledge present in commu nities of color. Yosso argues that "knowledges have been used to silence, marginalize and render people of color invisible, then Ôoutsider knowledge (Hill Collins, 1986), mestiza knowledges (Anzaldua, 1987), and transgressive knowledges (hooks, 1994) can v alue the presence and voices of people of color and


! 51 can re envision the margins as places of empowered transformative resistance" (p. 70). She critiques the idea that students of color come from cultural deficiencies and challenge traditional Bourdieuean c ultural capital theory by introducing her alternative model, community cultural wealth. Yosso emphasizes that traditionally, students carried an understanding that under successful assimilation outside the community, one can access social mobility. However , Yosso problematizes the idea that it is necessary to leave the community in order to find success and she stresses that wealth is already present in communities of color. Community cultural wealth is outlined by Yosso of containing six forms of capital that students of color can derive from their own communities into the classroom. These are assets students bring with them that can work to transform identity and the processes of understanding and positioning a student of color's place within higher educa tion. Yosso grounded on the theoretical model of CRT, works towards a "liberatory potential" in schooling for students of color (hooks, 1994; Freire, 1970, 1973) by ways to empower and validate the experiences of students of color. By providing the tools o f community cultural wealth and centering the racial identities of students of color, Yosso argues that students "become empowered participants, hearing their own stories and the stories of others, listening to how the arguments against them are framed and learning to make the arguments to defend themselves" (p. 75). Yosso works to challenge the distorted notions of students of color. Why is the element of community so important and foundational for Yosso's work? Yosso explains that the cultures of student s of colors' communities can work to "nurture and empower" students (p. 76). She takes it a step further to reframe the value of culture present in these communities of color in order to be utilized to empower. Knowledge, is argued as the accumulation of s pecific skills, tools, and abilities that are valued within the privileged in


! 52 society. However, this sets white middle class (privileged in society) as the standard and norm for all expressions of "culture" to be compared by. Yosso problematizes this as sh e redefines the standards and value systems of knowledge to work for students and communities of color through the six forms of community cultural capital. Note that also that many of the capitals can be overlaid and intertwined within each other and the m ain goal is to center the cultural wealth that comes from community relationships. 1. ! Aspirational capital refers to the ability to maintain hopes and dreams for the future even in the face of real and perceived barriers. This resiliency is evidenced by those who allow themselves and their children to dream of possibilities beyond their present circumstances, often without the objective means to attain those goals. This works to nurture a culture of possibility and break limitations put on students of color by society. 2. ! Linguistic capital works as both an intellectual and social skill through the communication experiences of multiple languages or style. This reflects the idea that students of color arrive in higher educational spaces with multiple language and c ommunication skills. Historically, viewed as a deficit and urged to speak English despite the repertoire of skills that stem from multilingual skills, Yosso addresses how linguistic capital provides, "social tools of vocabulary, audience awareness, cross c ultural awareness, Ôreal world literacy skills, math skills, metalinguistic awareness, teaching and tutoring skills, civic and familial responsibility, and social maturity" (p. 78). 3. ! Familial capital refers to the cultural knowledges nurtured through famil ia that carry a sense of community history, memory and cultural institution. This concept works to expand the idea of family to break the nuclear family standards to understand a broader sense of kinship. The relationships and connections made through our community provides resources that model emotional, moral, educational and occupational consciousness. This extends to the communities that are crucial and created in higher education. 4. ! Social capital is understood as a network system of people and community resources. These peer and other social contacts can provide both instrumental and emotional support through society's institutions. For example, though a first generation student, one can draw upon social contacts within their community to help identify r esources for college scholarships. Scholars note that historically, people of color have utilized their social capital to attain educational, legal, employment, and health care resources. It's a tradition of "lifting as we climb", bringing our communities with us as we achieve different goals in society (p. 79 ) . 5. ! Navigational capital provides the tools and skills to maneuver through social institutions. For example, Yosso highlights the strategies students of color gain by navigating through racially hostile universities by drawing upon the concept of sustaining high levels of achievement and invulnerability even in stressful environments. They're skills for resiliency, survival, recovery, and even ways of thriving in systemic constraints (p. 80).


! 53 6. ! Resistant c apital refers to the understanding and tools to foster oppositional behavior that challenges inequality. This form of cultural wealth is grounded in the legacy of resistance to subordination exhibited by communities of color. Furthermore, maintaining and p assing on the multiple dimensions of community cultural wealth is also part of the knowledge base of resistant capital. Freirean critical consciousness (1970), or recognition of the structural nature of oppression and the motivation to work towards social and racial justice, resistance takes on a transformative form (Sol—rzano & Yosso, 2002). Even the existence of students of color in traditionally white spaces of higher education is a form of resistance capital as they are standing onto campuses not made f or them. Transformative resistant capital includes cultural knowledge of the structures of racism and motivation to transform such oppressive structures (p. 81). Most importantly, Yosso's community cultural wealth model defines a sense of "group consciou sness and collective identity that serves as a resource aimed at the advancement of an entire group" (p. 81). This model provides empowerment and tools for survival in a "segregated world bounded by the omnipresent forces of racism and discrimination" as w ell as the neoliberalization of education (p. 81). It's important to note that Yosso specifically addresses that this concept is not to find ways of "co opting" or "exploiting" the strengths of students and communities of color but rather provides a larger purpose of combating and surviving the struggles of racial injustices. To have these tools with you to understand that your racial identity and the community you come from are reframed from a deficit position into one of empowerment I believe would start to dismantle the barriers of oppression for students of color as community is reintroduced to understand the experiences of students of color. Next, I will critique the limitations of community cultural wealth and the compromises Yosso's model makes in or der to liberate students of color within her framework. However, in this, I also problematize the ways of the critique of a woman scholar of color within this thesis as a way of reestablishing knowledge hierarchy and perpetuating whiteness as a student of color myself.


! 5 4 Cycle of Li beration (Harro, 2008) Step 4: Building Community Figure 7. This figure is adapted from the "Creating Change" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definiti on: The interpersonal phase of the liberation process is marked by a change in how we value others and interact with them on a regular basis. It is the phase of building community, and consists of two steps: dialoguing with people who are like us for supp ort (people who have the same social identities as we do, with regard to the issue of oppression), and dialoguing with people who are different from us for gaining understanding and building coalitions. This phase is characterized by the creation of an ong oing dialogue, where views are exchanged, people are listened to and valued, and we begin to view each other's points of view as making sense and having integrity, even if they are different from our own. Building community with people who are like us, we seek out people who may have similar experiences of our own, and talk with them to see how they made sense of their experiences and what we might learn from them. (p. 622) Again, I strategically place the narrative of another graduate student of color to focus on the ways students are coping with the forces of neoliberalism and racism within higher education. Through this student's narrative in particular, propelled me to have the courage to tell my own story and start exploring the processes of liberation . This was initiated because of the sense of community I felt by her story as it legitimized my own experiences. ! "#$%$&'((7!%#'*.3/#8$*0!$*.%$%6%$/*.!N! "#,'%$*0!*,2!&6(%6#,. ! )*3(6,*&$*0G!?/($&7M!'..684%$/*.M! .%#6&%6#,.M!+,3$*$%$/*.M!#6(,.M!(,'+,#.-$4M! -,'($*0M!4/2,#!.-'#,+ ! ' 5.5+*4$/ ' ! /,*"+$%& ' /0"%&* ' !


! 55 Cycle of Li beration (Harro, 2008) Step 5: Coalescing Figure 8. This figure is adapted from the "Coalescing" stage of the "Cycle of Libe ration" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definition: Having minimized our barriers, joined with allies, and fortified our resolve, we are ready to move into action to interrupt the oppressive system. We may organize, plan actions, lobby, do fund raising, educate and motivate members of the uninvolved public. We coalesce and discover that we have more power as a coalition. This gives us encouragement and confidence. We may find ourselves taking more overt stands, expre ssing ourselves more assertively, rallying people to support us as we respond to overt oppression. We have begun to "see our reality" differently and are naming ourselves differently. We are a "we" now, rather than adversaries. We are refusing to "play our roles' and "stay in our places" as we have done before. (p. 623) Yosso's (2008) community cultural wealth urges us to join together within our communities and take action against oppressive systems at play. Yosso hopes that we as students of color might reevaluate our "realities" from a deficit view thrusted upon us by society. From there, we can name our communities as sources of knowledge.


! 56 CHAPTER V I REFLECTIONS OF THE CYCLE OF LIBERATION Compromised Language and Roadblocks in the Cycle of Libera tion At first glance, Yosso's (2005) community cultural wealth model provides a seamless method of combating and surviving the oppressive systems of higher education for students of color. However, it is crucial that we recognize that the very language Yo sso utilizes within her method adheres to neoliberal principles. The language of community cultural wealth is compromised as it reestablishes the power relation that is occurring at the core of neoliberal principles. Though addressed in the discussion of h er work, the utilization of terms of capital, wealth, assets, and investment perpetuates a trapped system within neoliberalism. Her methods exemplify the ways neoliberalism has penetrated the very existence of cultural identity. Second , the recognition bu t the continued utilization of "capital" in her community cultural capital establishes that community culture can and is commodified and is run through the processes of economization (Brown, 2015). Third , it is easy to recognize that the six different cult ural capitals are grounded within tools of future economic attainment through the higher educational system already built upon an institution of "return on investment". From the understanding of the transformed nature of higher education as a marketplace, these cultural capitals become a source of 'social responsibility' as a way to attract students of color as " consumers and investors" (p. 27). This commitment to equality and inclusion within higher education works in favor of students of color coming out the other end as human capital enhancement. To put it bluntly, I problematize that Yosso's methods provide a survival guide to better adhere to the neoliberalization of students of color themselves.


! 57 I propose the question, can students of color truly be l iberated, empowered, and cope if they adhere to the very tools that are oppressing them in the first place? Is it enough to just survive and combat within the system? It is fascinating to critique the choices Yosso made to utilize neoliberal terms that are the tools of capital . Her proposed frameworks directly reinforces Brown's (2015) detrimental aspects of neoliberalism as they intensify inequality and provide unethical commercialization as every aspect of the lives of students of color are commercialized and they too navigate the systems of a marketplace education. Could the methods of community cultural wealth still work if neoliberal terms were changed into something no related to direct economic gain? Cycle of Li beration (Harro, 2008) Step 5: Coalescin g I propose that the cycle cannot move on from the stage of coalescing if we are to critique Yosso's compromised language. The final stage of the coalescing strategy is to move into action to create transformative institutional change. However, with the a dherence to neoliberal principles and the economization of the experiences of students of color and the communities, I am inclined to recognize that change cannot happen if we are to just recycle neoliberal terms in hopes to create change. Methods of the Continuation of the Cycle of Liberation I question the methods of social sciences disciplines and research as I reflect on my own deconstruction of Yosso's methods of empowerment, survival, and coping for students of color. Tuck and Yang (2014) argue that "social sciences disciplines have inherited the persistent drive to supersede the conditions of their operations from settler colonial logic, and it is the drive, a kind of unquestioning push forward, and not the origins of the disciplines we attend now" ( p. 229). I believe within my research I could not end with a critique Yosso's methods as her


! 58 methods spoke to me and provided me real visceral experiences of understanding my positionality within higher education as true methods of survival and coping. The refore, it was necessary for me to take a step back to problematize and critique my own methods of critique within this thesis because if I did not, it would "reflect upon the underlying beliefs about knowledge and change that too often go unexplored or un acknowledged" (p. 229). I also acknowledge the reinforcement of a system of standards and norms of who this thesis work is made for and who I am trying to please within the academy Ð recalling forms of return on investment through my graduate degree as wel l as adhering to standards of whiteness. Interestingly enough, my dismissal and critique of Yosso's methods of community cultural wealth perpetuates a system of knowledge hierarc hy that embeds another deficit inducing lens upon a scholar of color. Tuck an d Yang (2014) discusses forms of knowledge tha t the academy does not deserve Ð that the experiences, pain, and tears of communities of color are not for the white academy to deconstruct and analyze as specimens of research. One form that struck me was the "production of knowledge shaped by imperatives of the nation state, while claiming neutrality and universality in knowledge production" (p. 233). Upon reflection, I felt that I perpetuated neoliberal histories and understandings served as universal and neu tral forms of knowledge while holding them as standards to compare Yosso's work to. Tuck and Yang (2014) propose that there may be "language, experiences, and wisdoms better left alone by social sciences" (p. 233) because disciplines ground themselves with in white supremacy. Paula Gunn Allen (1998) proposes that in the "white world, information is to be saved and analyzed at all costsÉthe white world have a different set of values, one which requires learning all and telling all in the interests of knowledg e, objectivity, and freedom" (p. 59). So I inquire onto myself, is my critique of Yosso's work to produce something necessary for the academy to obtain? Does


! 59 the research frameworks of the academy working to discredit her and the legitimacy of her work nec essary? Who is this work for and why is this work being done? I believe the work Yosso has done through CRT and CRM shows the next step through praxis within the current discourse and a method students can utilize to navigate through oppressive systems. We can theorize and theorize about the negative and compromised implications of the neoliberal language she chose but I as a student of color who also resides both inside and outside the ivory towers, can admit whole heartedly that her methods did work to ch ip away the oppressive forces working against me. I believe that Yosso perhaps utilizes capitalistic neoliberal terms with intention to flip the deficit model as well as meeting students directly on the ground where these neoliberal frameworks are affectin g them. The research of Yosso has already been legitimized as community knowledge and the necessity of critique through a colonial white lens does not work in this instance. For me, the inquiry and critique of Yosso's method is "reduced to a performance of inquiry in order to acquire legitimacy" (Tuck & Yang, 2014, p. 236). Yosso's purpose of community cultural wealth stems from the problematization of the notion of "whose knowledge is capital" and who is legitimized within our various institutions. She doe s not write for the neoliberal academy, for white folks, or to provide an understanding for the institution as a main goal in her work, she writes for the empowerment of students of color specifically through language that she redefines for understanding f or this specific group. I draw upon the ways I myself can recognize the ways I have perpetuated whiteness, white supremacy and neoliberal tendencies within my own research. Tuck and Yang (2014) so eloquently argues,


! 60 Research is just one form of knowing, but in the Western academy, it eclipses all others. In this way, the relationship of research to other human ways of knowing resembles a colonizing formation, acquiring, claiming, absorbing, consuming. In the current neoliberal moment, there are few space s that remain dedicated to human curiosity and human inquiry aside from research. This component of research is valuable, and worth sustaining, yet we must simultaneously protect and nurture other nonresearch spaces/approaches for curiosity and inquiry. Ca lling everything research doesn't help to ensure that there are multiple opportunities to be curious, or to make meaning of life. (p. 237). I question my very purpose of inquiry and critique of Yosso's method of survival through a neolib eral model. Tuck and Yang (2014 ) argue this as "inquiry as invasion as a result of the imperative to produce settler colonial knowledge and to produce it for the academy" (p. 813). This, the understanding of my perpetuation of oppressive systems through my understanding o f knowledge and the act of writing this thesis I believe works as a form of liberation from oppress ive systems within this space. I believe t he ability to recognize the academy has created a hegemonic way of knowing even within my own liberation process an d provides the transformative step within the cycle of liberation. Reimagining Language and Knowledge for Students of Color I understand that right now in this standin g time that we cannot just dismantle the system s of oppression and start over. What I h ave learned is that problematizing the ways in which not one but multiple systems work can work to our advantage. Is it wrong to understand that there is a system and exploit it to liberate ourselves and gain that metacognition of the oppression that is su rrounding students of color every day in the academy? I believe it's not my soul responsibility to provide a definite answer to these questions but to propose new questions. Such asÉ. Can we exploit the system working against us in our favor? Can re framin g concepts to fit ourselves and our realities be a form of uprooting settler colonialism within academia that provides a way of liberation from such systems? Who is this re shaping of language for? I will be


! 61 honest and align with Yosso's (2005) work to stat e that I do not write to just merely change the minds of those who perpetuate the system, I write in order for students of color whom have been effected by oppressive systems of neoliberalism and racism in higher education to self actualize within the syst ems at play and understand how their identities fit into the space (Ferguson, 2012) . Who is language created for within higher education? Can we reframe language to understanding how it will work for us even in the face of delegitimizing our stories, under standing, knowledge? This I think starts to dismantle the system at hand. It's my understanding that students of color can utilize the language of the colonizer to navigate through the system but on terms and redefinitions that fit students of color . Tara Yosso's language of capital might adhere to neoliberal principles and be compromised howe ver, she utilizes it to reframe and redefine what these terms mean for students of color specifically and there is a refusal to make an understanding available to tho se who do not understand this . It might very well be that Yosso recognizes the extensive use of neoliberal capitalistic rationalities in the university and therefore strategically uses the language to ground students with familiarity. Therefore, she provid es students with the tools that critique the structure of the academy as it is currently built upon. Taylor Garcia (2014) , deconstructs w hite's assessment on how "scholarship is structured and exploited by particular modes of perception" (p. 3). The emphas is of this "structured scholarship" as a means to construct "precritical linguistic grounds" continues to perpetuate how literacy and language established by colonizers is a way to create the hierarchy of what is legitimized. Yosso is utilizing the se tools in a different way, a transformative way, in which only those who she writes for understands that it is not to work against them but as a tool to nav igate the systems from within. The ability to acknowledge the ways Yosso's methods are


! 62 both compromised an d decolonizes directly redefines the ways we understand, breaking the binary of knowledge Ð from right from wrong. bell hooks argue that "critical pedagogies of liberation respond to concerns and necessarily embrace experiences, confessions and testimony as relevant ways of knowing, as important, vital dimensions of any learning process" (hooks, 1994 p. 89). Student's frustrations grow by not being equipped with the vocabulary or tools necessary to express their experiences when they do not have the abilit ies to materialize their experiences. However, by providing those spaces to allow students to have the tools to live a more full and precarious life, hooks would agree that it will enable them to transform society and ourselves. h ooks describes how identit y politics emerged from t he struggles of the oppressed and exploited groups as the dominant groups created the hierarchy in order to exploit and maintain the exploitation . Language and vocabulary can equip communities to put into words the real experiences of those who are marginalized and oppressed so that they can articulate the real needs and policy changes to become visible in the globalized world Ð even if it means utilizing the very terms and practices that may have oppressed them in the first place.


! 63 Cycle of Li beration (Harro, 2008) Step 6 and Beyond: Figure 9. This figure is adapted from the "Creating Change" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Definition: Creating Change Th e parameters of this phase of the cycle of liberation include using our critical analysis of the assumptions, structures, rules, ad roles of the existing system of oppression, and our coalition power, to begin transforming the system. This means creating a new a culture that reflects our coalition's collective identity: new assumptions, new structures, new roles, and new rules consistent with a more socially just and equitable philosophy. It includes operating from a shifted worldview, where the values of a diverse and united community shape the system. It involves forming partnerships across differences to increase shared power. This manifests in influencing structure, policy, and management of organizations and system of which we are a part. It involves tak ing leadership, taking risks, and guiding change. We must continue to heal from past differences by sharing power and redefining power as collective power, power within, and power creating through cooperation. In this phase, the very essence of the system is transformed, and nothing can remain the same after the transformation. (p. 623)


! 64 Figure 10. This figure is adapted from the "Maintaining" stage of the "Cycle of Liberation" visualized within Bobbie Harro's (2008) model of liberatory practices. Defini tion: Maintaining In order to succeed, change needs to be strengthened, monitored, and integrated into the ritual of daily life. Just like anything new, it needs to be taken care of, learned about, "debugged," and modified as needed. It's rare if not imp ossible that new structures, assumptions, rules and roles are perfect or all inclusive. It is imperative that diverse group of "maintainers" work together to keep the change efforts aimed at their goals, and provided with resources. Its also necessary to c elebrate successful change efforts. This process says to the larger world, "Look, this can work. You can change things by dialoguing and working together." It spreads hope and inspiration, and provides a model for others. (p. 624) In contrast to the barr iers of the cycle of liberation as discussed within Yosso's compromised neoliberal language, the reimagining of language and knowledge through Yosso's redef inition of neoliberal terms pushes through those barriers and creates change while maintaining syste mic changes in structures. As discussed above, Tuck and Yang (2014) provide this thesis with the tools to critically engage with the systems, assumptions, structures, and power dynamics at play within higher education. This chapter truly uprooted my unders tanding of the necessity to inquire and find gaps in research as a method of performing for the academy. With this consciousness, the cycle of liberation was able to continue through creating change


! 65 into the stage of maintaining. It lays a brand new founda tion of understanding of what liberation is as the cycle continues onto cycle again and again. A way I believe this liberatory method for students of color to maintain and continue the cycle can be reframing research all together. An example of reimagining ways of research can come from Sandberg and Alvesson's (2011) examination of the ways the academy construct research through the favored gap spotting method. We are often advised to utilize existing theories and texts and find the gaps missing or ways of application of bringing opposing theories together to form a new. However, the ways I push back on gap spotting research is through problematization research where the central goal is to "disrupt the reproduction and continuation of an institutionalized li ne of reasoning" (p. 32). This method of research pushes the researcher to critique the modes of construction, deconstruction, and a resistance of current knowledge. Particularly, problematization research "not only questions assumptions which underlies ot her scholar's theories but also those which underlie one's own theoretical framework" (p. 37). To have critiqued Yosso's work against the scholars of neoliberalism to discredit or find gaps in her research reinforces rather than challenge theories. I find it ironic how Sandberg and Alvesson also lay out within their work the ways in which gap spotting research is the most utilized way of research in the academy and produces a "crediting economy" (p. 35) in the academy. They illuminate reasons on why gap spo tting is the favored method in the academy. Gap spotting research is uncontroversial and safe while it is powerful in tradition which indicates knowledge accumulation. The academic world also places importance on building acknowledgement of the work of oth er scholars for chances to getting published, then receive high citations of other scholars in turn, which generates rewards such as status, promotion, and higher pay. While gaining my own understanding of the ways I perpetuate oppressive systems, the ways we write,


! 66 the methods we are taught, and the purpose of getting approved by other scholars, the process of my own writing of this thesis, is one of the greatest perpetuations of neoliberal principles of higher education. Thus now reframing language to fit the realities of students of color as Yosso has done through her terms and the coupling of proposing more problematizing research I believe are new transformed foundations when I and other students start the cycle of liberation again.


! 67 CHAPTER VI I CONC LUSION Cycle of Liberation and Beyond The paradox of education is precisely this Ð that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated (Baldwin, 1963, p. 42.44) . Baldwin's (1963) quote from his speech "A Talk to Teachers" I believe brings full circle the processes of the cycle of liberation reflected on this thesis and demonstrates that despite an understanding of CRT and neoliberal ism, even students of color too perpetuate systems of oppression. For s cholars of color to survive systems of oppression, they must be conscious of the ways to detach from colonial ways of knowing and legitimizing the work of scholars of color or reframing and defining from within to reapply ways of knowing on our own terms ( Yosso, 2005; Tuck & Yang, 2014). For example, even if Yosso's methods of liberation and empowerment adheres to neoliberal vocabulary and principles, being critical about if the meaning and knowledge behind those terms fit into neoliberal principles for her and students of color? Gloria Anzaldœa conceptualize this : We are not allowed to enter discourse, because we are often disqualified and excluded from it, because what passes for theory these days is forbidden territory for us, it is vital that we occupy t heorizing space, that we not allow white men and women solely to occupy it. By bringing in our own approaches and methodologies, we transform that theorizing space. (Anzaldœa, 1990, p. xxv, emphasis in original) I started this thesis to understand how neo liberal principles have penetrate d the aca demy. The existing literature suggest s that students of color are e ffected by neoliberal principles and demonstrates how these principles uphold structures of whiteness in this space. The literature also offers way s students of color can survive and navigate within neoliberal historically white higher educational spaces . I want to reiterate an important component of this thesis must be the reimagining of the ways of understanding liberation apart from colonial ways of research. It


! 68 takes centering student voices, redefining language and vocabulary, and stepping back from the process es of research to understand the ways even the work of liberation can reproduce hierarchies of knowledge. If we do not realize how much co lonization has shaped almost everything about the institutional higher e ducation spaces, we cannot begin to reimagine or remake the ways we as students of color want to exist in these spaces. Giroux (1988) argues: Such a pedagogy makes problematic how tea chers and students sustain, resist, or accommodate those languages, ideologies, social processes, and myths that position them within existing relations of power and dependency. Moreover, it points to the need to develop a theory of culture and politics th at analyzes power as an active process Ñ one that is produced as part of a continually shifting balance of resources and practices in the struggle for privileging specific ways of naming, organizing, and experiencing social reality (p. 101). Utilizing the methods of counter storytelling that Sol—rzano and Yosso (2002) described was to put into practice in this thesis what I believe works as a transformative method within the cycle of liberation. Counter storytelling not only bring s to the surface the elemen t of importance of community as a necessity for students of color as Yosso (2005) frames but also to humanize the experiences of the real consequences of oppressive forces at play in higher education "with in various forms of racism and sexism" (p. 32). I b elieve that coupling counter storytelling (Sol—rzano and Yosso, 2002) and community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) are tools for liberation that challenge and chip away at the dominant discourses to expose the multifaceted layers of academia . My theoretica l framework centers on ways to aid students of color to address a gap in CRT scholarship identified by Museus ( 2015 ) : CRT frameworks do not provide a race conscious framework for understanding how to maximize student success among diverse populations or ho w to navigate the racial politics of an institution in equity efforts. Race conscious frameworks that explain such educational processes are also critical in efforts to not only concretizing and understanding how racism works, but also utilizing that knowl edge to (re)think, (re)analyze, and (re)define common educational processes. (pg. 28)


! 69 I believe this means little if we do not critique the ways we conduct research within higher education as students of color as elaborated in my previous chapter 's discu ssion of Tuck and Yang (2014)'s analysis on social sciences research. It is one thing to analyze the work that oppresses marginalized communities. I t is another to truly understand the work for communities of color and their framework. It is na•ve to analy ze the work of a scholar of color through the lens of a colonial white system of legitimization while doing the work to purposefully purpose a way to liberate students of color simultaneously. Thus, I believe this awareness and conscious building p ushes th e cycle of liberation to creating change by creating new cultures and forming new foundations, authenticity and integrity for students of color. As Cornel West (2008) would argue, it takes "courage to interrogate yourself, to look in the mirror and see pas t your reflection to who you really are when you take off the mask, when you're not performing the same old routines and social roles. It takes courage to ask Ð how did I become so well adjusted to injustice?" (p. 8). With this in mind, I believe that the cycle of liberation (Harro, 2008) can continue to proceed repeatedly if students of color stop utilizing the colonial ways of critique on work that does not fit the colonel ways of understanding . To conclude, I reflect back at Harro's cycle of liberation (2008) and the core of liberation. Harro describes liberation as "the practice of love, finding balance, development of competence, belief that we can succeed, joy, understanding we are not alone, commitment, passion and compassion" as well as the understa nding that liberation is based off of more than just my liberation or students of color, but a collective liberation (p. 624 625). I believe in the efforts of CRT scholars who work to continuously deconstruct and illuminate structures of oppression and to the efforts students of color creating spaces and writing their counter stories to humanize their experience serve as the purposeful roots of the core of liberation. Ultimately that


! 70 comes from the collective of the community of scholars of color bringing i n their cultural frameworks to provide a space for this work to happen within the academy. '


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