Emerging pride of place: Mexican American teacher candidates' perceptions and experiences within a historically Black university in Texas
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Framed within a context of social justice, this ethnographic study queried seven Mexican American students who pursued teacher certification at a historically Black university (HBCU) in Central Texas. By examining the Mexican American students' perceptions, this study opens conversations to challenge the limited information known about Latino/as attending HBCUs and the programs that prepare preservice teachers of Color. Mexican American students and the HBCU both exist at a crossroads, an intersection of border spaces of race, class, ethnicity, gender, and ability. While border crossers defines the uniqueness of these Mexican American teacher candidates who live in contradictory realities, borderlands defines the HBCU as a site of resistance in the margins of higher education. A Black-White binary, therefore, not only is flawed but also obscures struggles common among Latinos, African Americans, and Others for an equitable education. Through interviews and small group sessions, the teacher candidates shared a high regard for educational achievement, work ethics, and teaching. From the coded data, their stories were analyzed through the lens of critical race theory, borderlands consciousness, and critical pedagogy. Although commonalities exist, each analytical perspective brought to the forefront variant aspects of race, class, gender, and abilities. Linked to these analytical frameworks was the notion of three selves: enduring, situated, and endangered, which helped to illuminate the nature of change and transformation. In tandem with the analyses were member and colleagues checks that helped to provide deeper interrogation and clarity. Findings reveal how race and class shape the teacher candidates' identities as well as the character of the university. Although the Mexican American preservice teachers bring rich cultural legacies and cross-cultural perspectives, their needs and interests are under-addressed by the institution. Yet for them, it was class disparities more than racial injustices that perpetuated problems inside and outside the HBCU. Nonetheless, these teacher candidates believe the validating experiences and cultural network, which they acquired at this HBCU, will support their teaching effectiveness in public schools. The strengths and findings of this study are therefore crucial to rethinking policies and practices as related to teacher education programs and HBCUs, and their impact on communities of Color.