January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 44°F


Expert to address undocumented Latino/a youth

The Ithaca College Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity will be hosting a talk from Felipe Vargas and Mariela Nunez-Janes, two experts on Latino/a youth, as part of its “Suffocating Knowledge: Race, Power, Possibilities” discussion series.

Nunez-Janes said the undocumented youth movement aims to unite in solidarity those who are privileged and those who are marginalized to make change happen. Right now, both the state and the federal government are in the process of discussing laws on immigration. The speakers will focus on Latino/a youth in the U.S.

Mariela Nunez-Janes, associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Texas, will focus on the educational inequalities faced by undocumented youth. Felipe Vargas, national youth organizer for the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, will discuss the history of the undocumented youth immigrant movement and will share interviews he has conducted with young people who have risked deportation by engaging in civil disobedience. The talk will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in Textor 103.

Staff Writer Lisa Famularo spoke with Mariela Nunez-Janes, a Latina immigrant herself, to learn more about her lecture and her involvement with Latino/a youth.

LF: How did you decide to get involved in this field?

MNJ: Part of the reason why I chose anthropology, my graduate career, and why I decided to become a professor stems from my own personal experiences of education as a Latina immigrant. I saw both the conceptual possibilities that anthropology provides to understand the educational experiences of Latino and other marginalized youth as well as the possibility for intervention and action to challenge the underprivileging of Latino students and their experiences.

LF: What are you going to be speaking about when you come to IC?

MNJ: Generally I’m going to be talking about undocumented students and their experiences, and my specific focus is really a reflection on my work with undocumented youth as an anthropologist of education.

LF: What do you hope that the people who come listen to your speech will take away from it?

MNJ: Several things. First, because I will mostly be speaking to an academic audience, I want academics to realize the power and the privilege that we have to engage in action and to use our privilege for the purposes of really providing opportunities for undocumented youth. Also, just generally speaking outside of the academic audience, providing opportunities to share the leadership, bravery of undocumented youth themselves who have organized a civil rights movement for the 21st century. Part of the reason I’m not speaking alone — I’m speaking with Felipe Vargas — is because I really want the audience to understand that experience from the voices of the leaders of the movement.