I received my A.A. in English from San Antonio Community College, and both a B.A. in English with a minor in Women’s Studies and M.A. in Education with an emphasis on Bicultural-Bilingual Studies from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). My work engages archival studies, intersectional historical analysis, memory studies, and Chicana feminist thought to recreate living, breathing archives: archives in the flesh.
My dissertation will define and demonstrate archives in the flesh. A method and practice grounded in Chicana feminist theories and methods – specifically, Cherríe Moraga’s theory in the flesh and Josie Méndez-Negrete’s method of conocimiento – archives in the flesh will: challenge the colonial memory and imaginary that constructs Chicanas/os/x as intellectually inferior; allows others to feel the pain we have experienced in our own bodies; and empowers us to reclaim our stories and identities that have historically been slandered, silenced, and deemed unworthy of telling or knowing. Through the mining of our memories we can validate, recreate, and rewrite the story of self and recognize the resilience in our ancestral legacies.
A seventh generation Tejana and fifth generation San Antonian, my dissertation project is directly connected to my home and my own personal family history. From the 1950s to late 1960s, my parents, Ramiro and Gloria, survived San Antonio’s public education system that constructed a narrative about Mexican American students as a part of a larger “Mexican Problem.” Through racist ideologies that informed and justified racist educational policies, my parents’ generation was marked intellectually challenged, lazy, and uninterested in education. Through platicas with Gloria and Ramiro, we will document the violence and resistencia they experienced during time in elementary and middle school, thus creating their own archives in the flesh that speaks back to an education system that still functions under a white supremacist, colonial rule.
It is crucial to remember the physical, psychological, and spiritual violence carried out through the education system so we can connect these experiences to current activism. Specifically, the ongoing fights for bilingual education and ethnic studies in K-12 schools – a direct response to what was inflicted upon my mom, dad, and too many others. While Chicana/o scholars have documented the educational discrimination that Mexican American students have historically faced, my approach – combining archival, intersectional, and Chicana feminist methods – has yet to be explored. I am eager to begin new conversations and add to existing discourse with my work.
In spite of and despite their (mis)treatment, my parents instilled a love of learning in me prior to my enrollment in school. Before he left for work, my dad would leave me my work for the day: a series of uppercase and lower-case letters on wide lined writing paper to be traced and completed by the time he came home. Because the cost of childcare was not in our budget, my mom maintained the house with her unpaid labor and made sure I finished my writing assignment. However, when the weather was cool, she would pour herself coffee and ask me to choose a book. We would spend our morning reading on the porch, me sitting on her lap, both of us warm under a blanket, her saying “ding!” when it was time for me to turn the page. My dad would read to me too, never refusing the same book I would choose over and over again. Never rushing to finish. Always sure to bring the text to life for my favorite part: “Runnnnn Runnnnn as fast as you can – you can’t catch ME, I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
By the time I started school, my parents had equipped me with writing, reading, and listening skills that would allow me to excel at a young age. They were always present at school meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and even worked as volunteers for school events. Even now, as I continue through my doctoral program, my mom and dad always ask about what topics I am teaching, how students’ receive my lessons, offer suggestions that might help get students more engaged, and never hesitate to remind me that the work I am doing matters and is needed. They continue to disprove the myth that Mexican Americans simply do not care about education.
My parents were my first teachers and continue to inspire my teaching philosophy and pedagogical practices in the classroom.
I stand on their shoulders. I am their healing and resistance tuned flesh.