The ’Cultural Wealth’ of our community: Reclaiming our cultural streak |

The ’Cultural Wealth’ of our community: Reclaiming our cultural streak

Leticia Burbano de Lara

The orientation for this column stems from the perspective of community cultural wealth. This concept was created by Dr. Tara Yosso to highlight the assets that communities of Color (e.g. Mexican Americans/Latinos/Chicanos/Hispanos, Native Americans, Blacks, and Asian-American) bring from their families and communities into the classroom, and which are often ignored or neglected.

In the context of this column and the space it creates, community cultural wealth seeks to reclaim the assets, skills, abilities, and the informal and formal wisdom and knowledge of the communities of Color in the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Garfield County.

The assets of our community cultural wealth emerge in six different forms, as follows.

Linguistic: Includes the languages and communication skills, in different styles, that we inherit from our families and ancestors. We also express this wealth through our oral tradition, art, music, and poetry.

Familial: Refers to the accumulation of wisdom, knowledge, and history of our ancestors, including those we consider our extended family.

Resistant: Emphasizes our knowledge, skills, and abilities to challenge oppression, injustice, and inequity.

Navigational: Encompasses our skills and knowledge to navigate diverse social institutions such as family, the health, religious, and educational systems, and civic and political institutions, as well as systems of oppression such a racism, bigotry, and economic and gender inequality.

Aspirational: Refers to our capacity to keep alive our hopes and dreams in the face of adversity.

Social: Represents the networks and community resources that provide both emotional and logistical support to navigate various social institutions.

Personally, I have relied on these assets throughout my personal and professional life by utilizing my familial capital to navigate the world. For example, when I was a child I learned from my mother how to take the bus. My father was working construction and he had a pickup to transport materials and tools around.

One day, my sister asked mom why we had to take the bus everywhere instead of traveling in the pickup. My mother’s response was: “Because the bus will take you far away.” In her words of wisdom she was teaching us how to be independent and how to fend for ourselves. “The bus” and the navigational capital it represents took me to Universidad de Costa Rica first, and then to Texas Tech University, and New Mexico State University, where I earned my doctorate. Finally, the assets represented by this metaphorical “bus” brought me to Glenwood Springs five years ago.

I want to invite other members of the community of color of the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Garfield County to share in this column your community cultural wealth experiences. Whether you belong to one of the first families of color in the region or are a newcomer family in the community, contact me at:

Leticia Burbano de Lara, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Education at Colorado Mountain College.

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