"We Created that Space with Everybody:" Constructing a Community-Based Space of Belonging and Familia in a Latina/o Youth Group

Julissa Ventura

Abstract


As the Latino population grows across the United States and particularly in places outside traditional gateway cities, questions arise around the challenges and opportunities for Latinos in these new areas of settlement. Situated within this context of Latino demographic change, this article examines the construction of a youth-led, grassroots Latino youth group in a mid-sized, Midwestern city. Through a community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) and social justice development framework (Ginwright & Cammarota, 2002), this article highlights how Latino youth and adult community allies constructed a space of belonging where youth shared their experiences and knowledge. In the group youth built upon their familial and navigational capital and developed self and social awareness. This youth constructed space differed greatly from the schools youth attended. Drawing from a 16-week, ethnographically informed study this article suggests that when youth are given an opportunity to create and lead their own space, they can provide powerful insight and perspective on educational issues. The findings from this study have implications for educators, youth workers, and policymakers looking for ways to build more engaging, culturally-relevant classrooms and programs for Latina/o students.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24974/amae.11.326

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