Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013


This article uses Critical Race Theory and LatCrit methodologies, vocabulary, categories, and pedagogical approaches. In this Section, titled 'On Mascaras,' I am grappling with race (and gender secondarily) in public space -- un/masking my professional persona. In using the word 'wrestle' in the subheading I am referring to this struggle over a re-allocation of the social power that inheres in racial hierarchies, namely, the back-and-forth exchanges involved in changing the racial ambiance by exposing and transforming the presumptions, especially regarding notions of inferiority, that cabin our thinking and restrain our relationships. My original paper was something of an outburst, challenging the silence all around me about my Latina reality. Thinking back, it was more oppositional than I knew. Specifically, I did not realize the extent to which I was challenging White space by just beginning the original article in Spanish. Race scholars were coming to voice, and many of us were 'outbursting.' My objective in the process of learning from the original article is to un/mask in more strategic ways to achieve complex ends: I say 'strategic' because I have explicit rationales. In the original article I was situated in the classroom as a student and my unmasking was often involuntary and fraught with the fear of being seen as inferior. My masking had to do with the negotiations that Outsiders engage in to assimilate and resist assimilation. However, in these years since I wrote M'ascaras, I have been in the classroom as a teacher and scholar, with significant authority over the classroom's discursive protocols. I used un/masking to focus on the choices pertaining to identity expression and as an analytical tool to ferret out the silencing and coding of legal discourse. Admittedly, there have been moments of unmasking, related to those I experienced as a law student, that remind me that institutional power is denied to those who act oppositionally, especially to those who insist on advocating on issues of racial subordination within the legal academy or the legal profession. Like many other female professionals, I have struggled to integrate my obligations in the workplace with those in the home. One persistent question for me is not how to balance the workplace with the home, but rather how to close the space between, or braid, the public and private. This is of particular interest to me as a woman of color. Over time, my scholarship, and specifically the M'ascaras article, was read and used by my family. I do not know how common this is for other faculty of color, but it was transformational for us.

Publication Title

Harvard Journal of Law and Gender





First Page


Last Page



Critical Race Theory, LatCrit, Identity, Racial Silence, Critical Pedagogy, Latina/o, Chicano Studies, Race, Equality, Social Justice, Racial Justice, Law, Narrative


Also published in UCLA Chicano Latino L. Rev. (May 2014)



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