[For YAB] Today I remembered a conversation with YAB while I was doing diversity research for NYU and stumbled across a journal article titled “Are Emily and Greg more Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination.” During the YAB retreat the members went off on many, many tangents, but there was one in particular that I let run for a little longer than I usually permit because it was one of those interludes that was funny and incisive and tragic all at the same time.
During the “What Do You Bring to the Table?” exercise everyone had been saying and spelling out each other’s names, which eventually led to someone making a joke that if you were named “Quadasha Brown” you would never be able to get a job. At the time everyone was giggling like crazy, but the moment registers in my memory as bittersweet. For what does it say about our society when our young people already know in their bones what two researchers need to do fieldwork on to verify?
[For Candice and Nahjee] I wish you ladies could have joined me for Lisette’s talk, “Multi-contextualism and the Consumption of Higher Education,” because I know both of you would have really enjoyed it. Giving you a digest below. We can dig into all this more deeply when we see each other next, because I would love to hear your reactions.
Lisette made a very credible case for the dishearteningly low college graduation rates of the latino student population being a result of certain cultural pressures rather than a lack of academic preparedness. In other words, it’s not that latino students aren’t capable of hacking college-level courses; it’s the fact that within the latino community young people take on very adult roles within their families, and this sense of obligation—and very real responsibility—often gets in the way of attending to the competing demands of college life. If we understand young latinos’ desire for parental closeness and their role in contributing to the family income, then all of a sudden the phenomenon of high-achieving latino students dropping out of selective colleges in order to attend the community college close to home makes sense.
What enables Lisette to arrive at these insights is by considering the problem of college persistence through the lens of multi-contextualism. Continue reading