Sociology ETDs

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This research explores how Latino/a high school students in New Mexico constitute their racial identities in this particular historical moment, the post-Civil Rights colorblind era. I explore what their chosen nomenclatures and employed discourses suggest about the relationship between their racial identities and academic achievement. The research questions are: How do Latino/a youth articulate their expressions of racial identity in the post-Civil Rights colorblind era? What discourses or nomenclatures do they employ? How are these discourses distinguished from one another? What do their expressions of racial identity suggest about the relationship between racial identity and gender? What may their expressions of racial identity suggest about the relationship between racial identity and academic achievement? This study reveals that Latino/as youth are negotiating their racial identities in the context of racialization and gendering processes at school. As part of that process, this study sheds light on the ways that phenotype influences the construction of race and the process of assimilation. Specifically, for Latino/as, I found that phenotype played into their identity negotiation. Many of these youth employed discourses of off-whiteness,' some embraced their ethnic heritage, many worked to deflect racial-stigma by distancing themselves from Mexicanness, while others 'straddled' being 'American, but still a little bit Mexican. When examining the experiences of the multiracial Latino/as, I found that the multiracial white and Latino boys appeared to be assimilating into white society and that the multiracial Black and Latino/as youth were subjected to the one-drop rule as they were often racialized as Black. I also found that understandings of race and gendered expectations worked together to create opportunity and barriers. That is, I found that the way in which schools mete out discipline is influenced by perceptions of hegemonic masculinities and ideal femininities. Most of the young Latino/as had been disciplined at school. The Latino boys were subjected to harsh forms of discipline and the Latina girls were disciplined when they engaged in behavior that was in contrast to ideal femininities. These findings also suggest that there is no clear relationship between racial identity and school achievement among these young Latinos.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Gonzales, Phillip B.

Second Committee Member

Allen, Ricky Lee

Third Committee Member

Gomez, Laura E.


Hispanic American youth--New Mexico--Ethnic identity, Hispanic American youth--New Mexico--Social conditions, Minority high school students--United States--Ethnic identity, Minority high school students--United States--Social conditions, Racism in education--United States



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