Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-14-2016



Words are not neutral. Language, and the meaning and legal implications attached to it, are politically and ideologically driven. The manipulation of discourse are hallmarks of white supremacy. In a historical context, language has been used to frame the colonial legal discourse establishing white supremacy and racially defining the white polity who established it. This unearned power to establish legal discourse and a common narrative for whites as the superior racial group and people of color as inferior racial groups is pervasive in society. The trajectory this placed on people racially, politically, socio-economically, and educationally can still be seen contemporarily in New Mexico.

Those who have the power to write legal discourse have solidified their racial positions for hundreds of years in New Mexico and in the United States of America. Initially in the legal discourse, racial power and position was overt (i.e. Royal Order/encomienda act) and has shifted over time to more covert means as we see now in the State of New Mexico's disparity-focused educational policy. In order to establish more racially-equitable educational policy and legal discourse in general, the need to unravel the multiple layers of white supremacy through a thorough investigation of the language used is imperative. This may be possible through a critical race hermeneutical interpretative approach and methodology focused on these links in language use. The focus must also be on the establishment of the educational racial contract.


critical race theory, critical race hermeneutical, institutional racism

Document Type


Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ricky Lee Allen, Ph. D.

Second Committee Member

Ruth Trinidad-Galvan, Ph. D.

Third Committee Member

Ilia Rodriguez, Ph. D.

Fourth Committee Member

John Nieto-Phillips, Ph. D.


Thank you to my familia!