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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Chicana/o Dreaming : The American Dream and Education in Chicana/o Narrative

  • Author(s): Sánchez, Violeta Alejandra
  • et al.

In this dissertation, I examine contemporary Chicana and Chicano narratives that promote, complicate, and contest the ideology of the American Dream and its relationship to the U.S. educational system. I argue that these narratives expose the contradictory nature of an ideology that claims that education is the key to upward mobility for young children of all backgrounds, even as U.S. educational institutions are unequal. I suggest that those works that characterize the United States as a meritocracy and blame individual people and their cultures for their academic underachievement uphold the hegemonic ideology of the American Dream, as well as the master narrative that ignores the histories, experiences, and epistemologies of Chicanas/os and other people of color. Other Chicana/o narratives, however, problematize the contradictions in the ideology of the American Dream by exposing the sociostructural problems that make the American Dream inaccessible by those in the margins. Although educational institutions are critical sites in which an ideology of the American Dream is perpetuated and maintained, schools can also have a dialectical function that allows Chicanas and Chicanos to imagine an American Dream that includes the diversity in their realities; issues of bilingualism, assimilation, acculturation, gender education, and citizenship figure in the narratives I analyze in this project. I argue that the study of these works is critical because narrative allows us to confront the contradictory nature of the ideology of the American Dream, a powerful contradiction that often remains invisible or unchallenged in our everyday lives

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