Occasional Paper Series #45

Enlaces in Reflections and (Re)memberings as Latina Border Crossers: Journeys of Childhood and Professional Un/Welcomings

by Ana Carolina Díaz Beltrán, Paty Abril-Gonzalez, Cinthya Saavedra, and Michelle Salazar Pérez

We are humbled to be part of this special issue honoring the life work of Jonathan Silin. His scholarship and activism have opened spaces for future generations, like our own, to share our testimonios. We are straddling between being former early childhood teachers and current teacher educators—between our profe lives and our everyday lived experiences as Latina border crossers. Testimonios, which we engage in for this piece, have herstorically captured intimate tellings that connect individual struggles and strengths to the larger collective (Delgado Bernal, Burciaga, & Flores Carmona, 2012; Latina Feminist Group, 2001). It is in these testimonios that women of color (and in our case, Latina) scholars have felt hospitality and welcoming. Although our tellings may be painful to write and read, Lorde (1984) and Anzaldúa (1987) remind us that we must write for survival and tell our stories in our own words. In that way, we acknowledge the deep intergenerational wounds felt by Latinx peoples and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), while providing a means for conocimiento/healing.

The testimonios we share are intimately tied to the special issue’s theme, touching upon layers of welcoming and hospitality. To provide insight, Cinthya and Michelle came to this writing space as mujeres who have supported each other through a sisterhood for over 15 years. They met when Michelle was in graduate studies and Cinthya was early career faculty and immediately found a sense of welcoming and hospitality in each other. They shared interests in women of color feminisms and how these ways of knowing and being can inspire anti-oppressive and anti-colonial imaginaries in early childhood studies. This sisterhood has guided Michelle and Cinthya through the ups and downs of life, generating lessons and reflections as teacher educators and scholars of color. They have been honored and delighted to meet and welcome (and be welcomed by) new Latina colegas, Ana and Paty, co-collaborators of this piece. It gives us all great joy and hope to work together, share and learn new insights, and suggest recommendations for the future of early childhood education and care, particularly by centering culturally sustaining praxis to support historically minoritized children.

About the Authors

Ana Carolina Díaz Beltrán is a clinical assistant professor of multicultural education at Texas A&M University and a former social studies teacher. Her research focuses on the living experiences of citizenship of transnational Latina/o/e/x immigrant youth to inform teaching practices and curriculum. Dr. Díaz Beltrán engages narrative forms of inquiry and autoethnographic research to complicate, historicize, and counter oversimplified, abstract conceptualizations of children’s experiences of citizenship and belonging that are void from experience. Her work is informed by the work of decolonial, postcolonial, and Chicana feminist scholars of color.

Ana Diaz Beltran

Paty Abril-Gonzalez is an assistant professor in the Bilingual Bicultural Education program at the University of Texas at Austin. She centers spoken, written, and artistic testimonios of Latinx bilingual students, pre-service teachers, and their families. One of her research commitments involves creating spaces and times for seeing and hearing multiple and differing perspectives, working through the tensions alongside community. In order to do so, she considers the importance of meaningful and long-term relationships in bilingual education through multimodal arts-based research approaches.

Paty Abril Gonzalez

Cinthya Saavedra is professor and associate dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Programs & Community Engagement. Her research centers Chicana/Latina feminist epistemology in the investigation of emergent bilingual, immigrant, and borderland experiences in education as well as spirituality and critical research methodologies. Her work can be found most recently in journals such as Equity & Excellence in Education, Review of Research in Education, Language Arts, and Research on Teaching English.

Cinthya Saavedra

Michelle Salazar Pérez is an associate professor of early childhood education at The University of Texas at Austin. She uses women of color feminism to inform her community collaborations, research, and pedagogy in early childhood studies. These perspectives not only critically orient her work, but they also foreground the urgency to re-envision the field to support culturally sustaining practices and programs for minoritized young children. Her work has been published in Teachers College Record, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, and Review of Research in Education.

Michelle Salazar Perez