Children Of The Sleeping Giant: Social Activism Among Latino Youth In The United States.
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Racialization, oppression, and resistance are key components of the United States? race relations. Consequently, social movements organized and led by youth of color represent the manifestation of resistance to social and political structures of power. The present thesis examines the activism of Latino/a youth in Southern California against House of Representatives Bill 4437, ?The Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act,? that took place in 2006. During this contentious context, youth activists organized protests, classroom discussions, and walkouts across the U.S., particularly in Southern California. Twenty-four participants of these events were interviewed in order examine the conditions that led them to engage in social movement activism and how they understood race and racism within their organized resistance. Traditional and current social movement theories (i.e. political process theory), do not adequately explain the emergence of activism among Latino/a high school students whose political engagement is often sparked by their experiences with racial discrimination or anti-immigrant sentiment. This research study addresses an existing gap in social movement theories by merging social movement theory with race-centered theories in order to contextualize and understand social movements led by youth of color within the U.S. racial system. The voices of participants represent critical epistemological frontiers as the study documents and examines their experiences and counter-frames. Counter narratives are indicative of insurgent consciousness among racial minority movements in their challenges against authorities and official narratives. The findings of this study demonstrate that student activists in Los Angeles and San Diego, California, had varying degrees of consciousness regarding the proposed immigration bill. This included views of H.R. 4437 as threatening to their families, community, as well as deeming the bill as a racialized political threat. Secondly, the findings also indicate that marginalization of communities of color continues to occur, as in this case, student activists? faced repression for making political claims. I conclude with a discussion of the significance of the 2006 youth movement, participants? reflections, and lessons participants took away as they matriculated into adulthood and some into the continuing movement for immigrants? rights.