Book by: Martin Guevara Urbina, Ph.D. & Claudia Rodriguez Wright, Ed.D.
Review by: Anna Hegedus
College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Though higher education institutions often develop initiatives meant to promote diversity both in the student body and in the administration, equal access to education is still a challenge that looms large over the education system. In their book, Latino Access to Higher Education: Ethnic Realities and New Directions for the Twenty-First Century (2015), Martin Guevara Urbina and Claudia Rodriguez Wright delve into the results of a long history of suppression of Latino access to higher education.
Guevara Urbina and Rodriguez Wright thoroughly discuss the historical oppression of the Latino community and how that legacy of subjugation continues to affect students of color today. Drawing on ideas presented in Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America (2013), the authors discuss the gap between enacting policies for equality and truly transforming a country’s belief system around the idea of race.
For readers who are already well-versed in the struggle for equal access, sections of this book may not contain much new information. For advisors who are new to working with Latino students, however, this book paints a clear picture of the history of Latinos in education as well as the current climate for students. One example of a universally useful section for both well-seasoned advisors and newer professionals is the narrative portion of the authors’ study, including self-reported data from students regarding their experiences with applying to and persisting in college. In spite of the fact that this area requires further study about those who have not persisted – a limitation the authors recognize – this section of the book is insightful and enlightening.
Though the text is a bit disjointed at times and there are sections that would benefit from further exploration – the student narratives, for instance – this book is overall quite valuable to advisors who are looking to learn more about the collective cultural experiences many of our Latino students live through. Advisors can use this book as an educational resource about the historical context of discrimination of Latino students in higher education and as a place to begin the conversation about how we can continue making strides to more fully realize missions of equal access. The book contains several recommendations on the types of large-scale changes necessary to improve Latino/a college enrollment and completion rates. With that said, readers should be aware that the objective of this book is not necessarily to present best practices for higher education professionals to employ when working with students. The text is more focused on providing perspective about the realities that many Latino students face. Additionally, it is crucial that advisors remain mindful that this book presents a generalized view of the experiences of a specific group of students and each student is an individual who may or may not relate to the experiences described in this book.
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2013). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America (4th ed.). Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum International.
Latino Access to Higher Education: Ethnic Realities and New Directions for the Twenty-First Century. (2015). Book by Martin Guevara Urbina, Ph.D. & Claudia Rodriguez Wright, Ed.D. Review by Anna Hegedus. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. 282 pp., $43.95 (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-398-09091-3.