Dissertation

Negotiating space : critical race counterstories of first-generation college students of color

This phenomenological study uses critical race theory to explore counterstories of four firstgeneration college (FGC) students of color who attend selective universities. In a postaffirmative action context in California, institutional focus on students of color has moved toward supporting FGC and “educationally disadvantaged” students as a response to legal challenges to race conscious outreach and admissions. Although students of color are included in both these demographics, a colorblind approach appears prevalent in supporting students. This study introduces the concept of “displacement” as the dislocation FGC students of color experience in the highly disruptive shift in Discourse and values between home and college. Displacement is impacted by social identities including FGC, person of color, LGBTQ, and undocumented residency status. In the absence of intuitional support, students mostly drew from community cultural wealth and on third spaces to negotiate displacement. My research also builds upon the concept of transformational resistance, suggesting it is not a singular or pure space, but can be enacted with other forms of resistance. This research has implications for policy and practice including the potential to inform policy by providing a window into the post-affirmative action culture of California’s elite campuses and documenting the deleterious effects of race-blind admissions polices and programs on underrepresented students. It also includes leadership implications to look critically at the role of disciplines such as Ethnic Studies; to prepare faculty and staff to be responsive to students’ converging experiences with racism, sexism, heterosexism, and xenophobia; and for administrators and faculty to be explicit and intentional in the inclusion of undocumented students in campus diversity actions.

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