Teaching, Scholarship and Service: Practicing LatCrit Theory

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This Essay explores LatCrit praxis as a healing tool. Before turning to LatCrit practice, let me offer a preliminary observation that many Latinos are troubled by leading divided lives in fractured communities. This is exacerbated by social conditioning which encourages Latinos, as well as other outsiders, to fragment their identities. One of the benefits of LatCrit theory is that it encourages the process of working toward wholeness. At a recent conference which looked at the courage of those who have decided to live lives divided no more, Parker Palmer, the plenary speaker, suggested that the spark which causes people to decide to live divided no more is the understanding that "[n]o punishment can possibly be more severe than the punishment that comes from conspiring in the denial of one's own integrity." That is a very powerful realization. Many of us have experienced situations where we are asked to choose to conspire in our own diminishment - for instance, by recognizing only one of our many identities, while disregarding others. One of the tasks of LatCrit practice is to work towards rebuilding the wholeness of the Latino community. To say no when people ask us to live divided, fractured lives by insisting, for example, that we not speak Spanish, even if we do not know any other language. We must fight persistent efforts to silence us. If Spanish is part of our identity, we should not be asked to mask that identity or to fragment it by deleting that part. We cannot and should not leave our race or ethnicity behind. Thus, we need to work toward rebuilding wholeness and leading lives of dignity, con respeto (with respect).