“the Target Doesn’t Matter If The Journey Wasn’t Fun”: A Multimodal Exploration Of Multiplicity And Success With Transnational Youth And Their Tutors At A Community-Based Organization
Demographic shifts in American society over the past half century due, in part, to evolving U.S. immigration laws and exponential changes in globalization have not been met with commensurate or even substantial evolution or adaptation in the ways U.S. K-12 schools do business, especially how they teach immigrant students. The discrepancy between fluidly changing happenings in U.S. society and globality, on the one hand, and the rigid structure of U.S. (public) schools, on the other hand, propagates inequalities that systematically impact immigrants—key actors in demographic change—including Black African and Caribbean immigrant students who are further disadvantaged by persistent legacies of racism, colonialism, and imperialism. Black African and Caribbean immigrant students have community cultural wealth and transnational funds of knowledge that many K-12 schools in the U.S. do not recognize, and they often encounter systemic inequities that obstruct their educational success. Research has shown that these students engage in transnational literacy practices while learning in out-of-school spaces such as the home, communities, and after-school programs at community-based organizations (CBOs). Furthermore, studies have found that CBOs can and often do “fill in the gaps” left by schools, for example, by providing students with culturally germane resources and programming. Yet the ways in which Black African and Caribbean immigrant students in the U.S. mobilize their cultural assets and transnational funds of knowledge, which include their “aspirational capital” and how they conceptualize, define, and actualize success, have been underexamined. So is the role CBOs play in mediating and fostering the students’ and their families’ transnational wealth. In addition, there is limited research on the systems and structures needed in K-12 schools to support Black immigrant students considering their transnationality. This qualitative practitioner research study contributes by exploring the experiences of Black African and Caribbean immigrant students who are an under researched group. In addition to highlighting the systemic injustices that these students often face in schools and exploring their cultural wealth and funds of knowledge, a major aim of this research was to investigate the work of CBOs in facilitating and nurturing Black immigrant students’ transnational literacy practices as an exemplification, albeit not a perfect model, of possible pathways forward for schools. In this same vein, this research examines the potential partnerships that schools can forge with CBOs for mutual benefit and, especially, for the betterment of students. Taking place virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic, this study surfaced how Black transnational students’ lives are ingrained in intergenerational multiplicity; the manifold ways in which marginalization is instantiated in schools for participants; the pluridimentionality of transnational studentship; how success is a multidimensional, multitrajectorial form of resistance for participants; the invaluable role of CBOs in students’ education and acculturation in the United States; and the pivotal role of university-community partnerships in the education of minoritized students. Based on these findings, this researcher suggests several conceptual contributions.