To offer testimonio is inherently political, a vehicle that counters the hegemony of the state and illuminates the repression and denial of human rights. Claiming Home, Shaping Community shares testimonios from and about the lives of Mexican-origin people who left the rural, agricultural Imperial and San Joaquín Valleys to pursue higher education at a University of California campus.
While symbolically their journeys embody the master narrative of the “American Dream,” Claiming Home, Shaping Community does not echo the “rags to riches” trope reified in dominant culture, but rather, it asserts the need to rehumanize the purpose and heart of education. In each chapter, the narrators illustrate myriad supports that allowed them to move forward on their academic and professional journeys: hard work, affirmative action, inclusionary practices, mentors, and their communities’ cultural wealth. Each trajectory is unique, but put together as a collection, the commonalities emerge.
Denoting a sense of political and social urgency that responds to the current accentuated economic disparities between the haves and the have-nots, these essays illuminate the broader societal benefits of federal legislation and resources for state-funded public higher education and policies that broaden access and resources. By telling their stories, the contributors seek to empower others on their journeys to and through higher education.
All will be touched and inspired by these testimonios that demonstrate strength, resiliency, and how everything from hard work to affirmative action, mentors, and cultural wealth allowed these individuals to move forward on their academic and professional journeys.
These narratives highlight the knowledge, skills, and critical social and political contributions that are further developed by, and are the result of, access to higher education. As education disparities persist, it is critical that these testimonios be shared to provide models of paths toward success.
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