Skip to main content

Nativity Shifts, Broken Dreams, and the New Latino South's Post-First Generation

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 90, No. 3

Pedro R. Portes, University of Georgia
Spencer Salas,University of North Carolina at Charlotte

ABSTRACT

For game three of the 2013 NBA finals, 11-year-old Sebastian de la Cruz, a musical prodigy born and raised in the great state of Texas, opened the June game with a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner—a la mariachi. As the applause faded for the El Charro de Oro's [The Golden Mariachi's] performance, an outburst of racialized twittering hit the cloud. Although we watched the series of events that surrounded Sebastian de la Cruz's performances from thousands of miles away and despite the geographic distance between San Antonio and our communities, we recognized the hit-and-run commentary as all too familiar. In Georgia and the Carolinas, increasingly corrosive rhetoric surrounds Latino immigration—creating great obstacles to academic achievement including the navigation of a postcolonial nativist American landscape of K-12 education that continues to fail minoritized youth. Or, as Flores and Loss (2010) surmised, “Immigration policies and practices have been, and continue to be, riddled with contradictions. Close to the center of this sometimes bloody and always controversial issue is a fundamental, indeed enduring, question: Who is an American and what sorts of education should all Americans enjoy?” (p. 403). With these questions in mind, we argue that given an ongoing Latino nativity shift marked by 2010 Census analyses, the continued framing of post-first generation Latinos as perpetual foreigners whose academic achievement depends simply on the remediation of their English language proficiency is symptomatic a “national myopia” (P. R. Portes & Salas, 2014). We conclude with the overarching proposition that educational policy paradigms for Latino achievement in and beyond the shifting demographics of the U.S. South need to be grounded in additive models of cultural identity development that advance inter-culturally distributed cognitions, attitudes, and affective-behavioral patterns that result in achieving broader, richer identities across a variety of social contexts.