Krista Cortes

Designing New Scripts: Exploring the Everyday Practices of Blackness Amongst Afro- Puerto Rican Families in California

This dissertation explores everyday ways Afro-Puerto Rican mothers living in California create environments for their children to learn blackness. I position mothers’ approaches to teaching as rooted in design-thinking – a framework which can be transferred into educational settings to increase equity and inclusion for Afro-Latinx youth, broadly. Through narrative inquiry I document Afro-Puerto Rican families’ everyday practices of blackness and analyze the language and ideologies indexed in those practices to better understand how blackness is taught. I situate participation in practices within larger systems of sociopolitical power relations, complicating dualistic notions of blackness and Latinidad. Moving away from debilitating characterizations of black mothers, this project centers Afro-Puerto Rican women as black activist mothers who cultivate practices of blackness amongst their children that intentionally confront racism, sexism, poverty, and violence as a means to cultivate a strong, sustainable Afro-Latinx community. This study contributes to the fields of Education, African Diaspora, and Latina/o/x Studies by: (1) offering new understandings of Afro-Latinidad that foreground previously obscured experiences of Puerto Ricans in California; (2) documenting daily practices of blackness in Afro-Puerto Rican families; and (3) imagining new ways to design equitable educational spaces that support Afro-Latinx youths’ practices of blackness.