Brown Faces in White Places: Resisting Racist Aggressions and Nonbelonging Through Latina/o Organizations at Predominantly White Universities
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In this dissertation, I examine Latina/o undergraduate students’ experiences with systemic racism and racial identity in relation to their academic persistence at three predominantly white universities. By employing ethnographic observation and a focus group with one fraternity, and in-depth qualitative interviews with 43 respondents, this study reveals that Latina/o students experience what I term racist aggressions, racialized nonbelonging, and delegitimation at their universities. I find that these experiences negatively affect their relationship with the institution and as a consequence, their academic decisions. I develop the concept of the “white racial place” to describe these dynamics at predominantly white universities. Finally, I find that Latina/o students gain a strong and critical sense of belonging through their participation in a Latina/o sorority or fraternity, which allows them to reject racist stereotypes and to foster positive social identities that promote academic persistence and success in college. Through these organizations, Latina/o students also advance positive social changes that transform the racial landscapes of their universities.
Orta, David (2017). Brown Faces in White Places: Resisting Racist Aggressions and Nonbelonging Through Latina/o Organizations at Predominantly White Universities. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from