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Schoolhouse of Resistance: Critical Counterstories of Grassroots Organizers and Campus Change Agents in California Cultural Centers


This case study centers the voices of cultural center professionals and uses historical and present day collective counterstories to unveil visible and invisible forms of resistance, tools and strategies for change, and the ways in which they foster interest convergence within their multiple spheres of influence to advocate for students of color and minoritized communities. Inspired by Critical Race Praxis for Educational Research this study also reveals institutional domains of dominance that perpetuate systemic racism, status-quo norms, status-quo stories, and race-neutral policies in higher education. The perpetual delegitimization of cultural centers, institutional disinvestment in professional development, systemic erasure of community histories of struggle and resistance, and institutional co-optation of diversity and equity labor, institutionally marginalizes the expertise and racial literacies of cultural center professionals in higher education, and pushes cultural centers to operate in silos. Despite these challenges, cultural center professionals often leverage relationships with student activists, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members to foster transformative changes in higher education.

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