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Cinco de Mayo, Normative Whiteness, and the Marginalization of Mexican-Descent Students


Clayton A. Hurd is the Director of Service Learning in the Institute for Learning and Teaching and an adjunct faculty member in the Center for Applied Studies of American Ethnicity at Colorado State University. He received his Cultural Anthropology Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently working on a book manuscript focusing on suburban school resegregation in California (


This case study is concerned with how institutional practices of normative whiteness can impede the school involvement of Mexican-descent students. It examines how damaging forms of white normativity can operate in school settings where one might least expect to find them: in commemorations of Mexican cultural holidays. The author shows how such commemorations can have the paradoxical effect of marginalizing Mexican-descent students and discouraging their involvement in a range of school activities. [Mexican American, whiteness, cultural conflict, cultural celebrations, belonging, identity formation]