Sociolinguistics Lunch: Deyanira Rojas-Sosa (SUNY New Paltz)

OCT 31, 2014 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




October 31, 2014: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Speaker: Deyanira Rojas-Sosa (SUNY New Paltz)
Title: The Denial of Racism in Latino Students’ Narratives about Discrimination in the Classroom
Abstract: This study focuses on how Latino students perceive and frame experiences of prejudice against them  in the classroom through narratives told in informal interviews in Spanish. This project started as an  inquiry about these students’ general perceptions and experiences in their Advanced Spanish-language  classes, and how these compared to their experiences in other classes on campus. Narratives are essential  to understand how speakers perceive and evaluate the experiences narrated, and how they position  themselves in relation to their group and outsiders. 

The results show that, in most cases, when recounting narratives of discrimination, or situations that  could be considered prejudiced, students were hesitant to recognize that they were being the subject of  discrimination, or to qualify the story as an occurrence of racism. Different strategies were used to avoid  this recognition, including assigning others the role of recognizing the situation as discriminatory; and  also, using the narrative evaluations or introductions to justify or mitigate the reasons that motivated these  incidents. Additionally, these narratives show how students position themselves as separate and different  from Anglo students. Discourses of prejudice and racism denial have been broadly documented, most of  them focus on those who deny being racist themselves, or being part of a racist group. This study shows  how the minority group might incorporate these discourses of denial, and how racial separation is part of  these students’ classroom experience.