Borderlands, Translingualism, and Latinx Students in a Monolingual Community College

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2018-05

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Abstract

Typical research regarding Latinx students often begin with demographic data demonstrating the “browning” of America and how the emerging Latinx student population either affects higher education or how higher education still misunderstands Latinx, especially first- and second-generation migrants to the United States. Though Latinx students have been enrolling in colleges and universities in larger numbers, they also have the largest cohort who do not complete college degrees. As the ubiquitous First-Year Writing course in American education, many Latinx students are excluded from later college courses because of the “gatekeeping” action of that writing course.

This research project examines the original purposes of community colleges, both nationally and locally. Community colleges practice institutional rhetorics of open boundaries and opportunity, but this project demonstrates a First-Year Writing program that reaffirms both whiteness and monolingualism. I start with a local community called Aldine Texas, with an overwhelmingly Latinx, migrant, and Spanish-English borderland space. But the local “state” institutions ignore this translingualism and transnationalism and erase both the history of Aldine Latinx students and attempt erase their translingualism skills. The community college both acts as an extension of those state institutions but a more assertive attempt to resist a space of intellectual and social multicultural rhetorical inquiry. Specifically, I explain how the First-Year Writing textbook represents decades of whiteness and monolingualism that attempt represent hegemonic literacies and rhetorics, while contemporary Rhetoric and Composition Studies invites translingualism within the writing curriculum.

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Keywords

Latinos, Latinx, Translingualism, Monolingualism, Community colleges, First-year writing, Critical pedagogy, Borderlands

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