Alejandra Writes a Book: A Critical Race Counterstory About Writing, Identity, and Being Chicanx in The Academy
Martinez, Aja Y.
Writing centers can never forget to talk with students. —Victor Villanueva [W]hen we can learn to hear the counter in the narratives our students tell, particularly those students who are marginalized, we are awakened to—made to realize—the discursive and material obstacles they face as they work to find a meaningful and productive place in the academy. —Rebecca L. Jackson This is a counterstory about a student of the Writing Center. I have made assertions in previous scholarship that counterstory, as a method of critical race theory, allows voices from the margins to become central to relating underserved students’ own experiences within the academy (see “Critical Race Theory;” “A Plea”). As asserted through the epigraphs above of Victor Villanueva and Rebecca L. Jackson, these narratives are crucial to understanding statistics beyond resulting master narratives formed about underserved students. Concerning my own scholarship and subjectivity as Chicanx, this counterstory is a response to this special issue’s question: What kinds of support do graduate student writers from underserved populations need and want? The narrative below focuses on statistics specific to Chicanxs2 in the academy and along the Chicano/a Educational Pipeline (Yosso and Solórzano 1). As numerous critical race theorists (Bell, Williams, Delgado, Yosso) and proponents of critical race narrative in rhetoric and composition (Gilyard, Prendergast, Condon, Villanueva) have asserted, marginalized students are the experts of their own experiences and should be the purveyors of their narratives. Gilyard notes, the personal narrative as a primary database serves as “an account that will further illuminate matters for those involved with the education of” minoritized students, such as African-Americans, American Indians, and Chicanx (12–14). I craft the narratives below with the intent that the institution of Writing Centers and, specific to this audience, Writing Center administrators, approach underserved students with ears that will listen for that which they do not intellectually, viscerally, or experientially know (Ratcliffe 29). Ratcliffe’s call for rhetorical listening is furthered by Flores and Rosa’s “raciolinguistic ideologies” framework that examines “not only the ‘eyes’ of whiteness but also its ‘mouth’ and ‘ears’” (151), all toward the understanding and belief that we as people of color can relay who we are on our own terms and in turn make change collaboratively.