Being Culturally Responsive to Black and Latino Queer Youth

Having a lens and identifying queer African American youth in the 1970’s was not difficult. Not to say that my ethnographic lens was so keen, and nor was there a ratchetness to highlight queer youth at that time. Instead, those that were queer though did not respond as queer for fear of being ostracized, shared subtle ways of displaying their uniqueness. It was either by associations in sub-groups of like-minded students, be it theatre, cheerleading or visual arts, or that individual would stay to themselves in quiet spaces, often times claiming shyness to be their identifier. In my class, queer high school students both black and white had an outlet to mix with other students who were queer. That said, these students would not openly claim themselves to be part of an LBGT+Q community. Whereas today, Bettina L. Love’s ratchet methods of queer black youth exploration and discovery, given its messiness, would be key in developing a community for which African American queer students would be accustomed to sharing their identities by way of provocative introductions.

When looking back to the 1970’s and comparing black queer youth to today’s black queer youth, its obvious that the door is held open much wider than in the 70’s. Although students in my day were not very vocal against a person’s sexual orientation, they did have moments of quiet disrespect for those students who had no choice in themselves being different from the norm. Society today, teaches us to be culturally responsive and open to all queer youth. In media, especially television and film, young writers, producers and directors have made a definitive point in bringing the lifestyles of queer youth to the forefront. So, becoming queerly responsive is not only on trend, but its accepted across many educational and artistic platforms.

For one, the hip hop industry has begun to play with the notion of black queer youth and adults finding a home within the phallocentric community. However, the industry is still dominated by men who seem to refuse to close its gap of having little to no women interfere with their hip hop success. That said, it is even tougher for the urban black queer youth to take a stand. Again, as in my high school daze, we find the black queer youth segmenting themselves over to the side in sub-groups, where on display is a resistance many times portrayed as ratchetness.

In closing, becoming culturally responsive on every level is vital to our growth as human beings. As discussed by Ed Brockenbrough in the article ‘Becoming Queerly Responsive,’ todays pedagogy must be inclusive of queer youth starting in elementary schools and moving through grade 12. The implications of not attending to this matter leads to consequences that are violent physically and emotionally, hurting not one person, but a whole community of children, youth and adults who carry the emotional weight for those that carry the burden of not being able to live openly.


Works Cited

Love, Bettina L., “A Ratchet Lens: Black Queer Youth, Agency, Hip Hop, and the Black Ratchet Imagination.” Educational Researcher 46(9) (2017): 539-547

Brockenbrough, Ed.,   “Becoming Queerly Responsive: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for Black and Latino Urban Queer Youth.” The Author(s), 51 (2), (2016); 170-196


Scholars using testimonios as a research method provide a qualitative in-depth reflection that reaches the core of one’s story. In the narrative form, the personal experience is an approach to telling all stories, those of others and the story of the individual scholar. Collectively, these stories become bibliographic contributions. In today’s world, Latin American women are using their testimonios as a means to take a position against injustice and inequitable situations. In Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and America, Latina and Chicana scholars and feminist have and still fight using oral traditions to be heard and to make their point. Testimonios are also used as methodological and pedagogical tools to reinforce the narrative. In methodological formats, the interlocutor is supporting those who are or were once silent and/or afraid to confront the status quo. And as a pedagogical tool, this approach brings the mind, body and spirit into play.

Per this reading, we learn of several Latin American females who are in the news, not all good news, though news that informs us that Latin American women from across the globe are making headlines in fight of liberation and protest. On a sorrowful note, we will miss Marielle Franco, a Brazilian politician and feminist who was murdered for her stance on protecting the human rights of black and brown skinned Brazilians living in the favela’s. Two more Latina’s made the news last week when they took part in the March 4 Our Lives protest in Washington, DC. The students Edna Chavez and Emma Gonzalez stood front and center amongst a sea of people, adults and students, when giving their testimonios like many other narratives told that week. The two students were subject to gun violence in their schools.

Works Cited

Reyes, Kathryn Blackmer, and Julia E. Curry Rodriguez. “Testimonio: Origins, Terms, and  Resources.” Equity & Excellence in Education 45(3) (2012): 525-538

Martinez, Melissa A., Danielle J. Alsander, Laura J. Cortez, Anjale D. Welton, Aurora Chang. “We are stronger together: reflective testimonies of female scholars of color in a research and writing collective” Reflective Practice, 16:1, 85-95, DOI:                 10.1080/14623943.2014.969698

Delgado Bernal, Dolores, Rebeca Burciaga, Judith Flores Carmona. “Chicana/Latina         Testimonios: Mapping the Methodological, Pedagogical, and Political.” Equity &         Excellence in Education, 45(3), 2012, 363-372


Written while in the mood, circa 2009.

Hold on to the last breath,

As in water the fish crew

As in air the birds glide

As in clouds the moisture weeps

As in earth’s core nature burns

As in stars while they glisten

As in planets revolving the sun

As in a fragrance passing your nose

As in kids having fun

As in Ella scatting the blues

As in rain producing food

As in Grandma’s apple pie

As in tears in our eyes

As in rainbows filling the sky

Now let go with a sigh…


A Poem for Evan

This poem was written at work in 2008 (during lunch). Two of my colleagues were sitting with me discussing each others writing styles. I mentioned that I write poetry. So, the challenge was for me to write a poem within the hour. I wrote about my colleagues son-to-be, Evan.

From a dreary hangar, perched high in the air,

a butterfly sits with a lonely stare.

Soothing is the silence, from which it came,

to a dull existence, it’s contained.

In time it will fly, as the cocoon will erupt,

in the meantime it matures, as its season shapes up.

From a dreary hangar, perched high in the tree,

soon our butterfly will be esprit.

Turn winter, turn spring, warm breezes in the air,

off comes the wrapping of its gentle snare.

Churning, churning, and churning with glee,

the cocoon is open, our butterfly is free.

Perched gently atop a flower’s flare,

for Evan to watch with a gentle stare.