Notes on: Tara J. Yosso (2005) Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth, Race Ethnicity and Education, 8:1, 69-91, DOI: 10.1080/1361332052000341006

Dave Harris

CRT is seen as a challenge to traditional notions of cultural capital which have a deficit view of communities of colour. Instead, they possess knowledge, skills, abilities and contacts that are often not recognised and these have good effects which can be deployed in classrooms.

We start with Anzaldua and the need to occupy theorising space. Race and racism in the USA have excluded black people [with reference to Scheurich and Young among others] (70). Bourdieu and his associates talk about knowledge as cultural capital and the difficulty of accessing elite knowledge and the way in which schools often work from this assumption to help disadvantaged students. The point is that outsider knowledges or mestiza knowledge can be drawn upon to produce 'transformative resistance', guided by CRT. We might have to alter cultural capital in Bourdieu to refer to 'community cultural wealth' instead and to identify forms that are often missed and underutilised.

CRT is defined via Crenshaw and Matsuda, legal studies and so on. Roots include Marxism neo Marxism and feminism, and there are offshoots including LatCrit etc [nice diagram on 71]. Early critiques were focused 'in black versus white terms… A black/white binary' (72, but later women and other POC challenge this tendency and saw the binary as limited, for example in understanding Latina/o oppression. CRT has benefited from this attention to intersections and has expanded. There is now even WhiteCrit — '"looking behind the mirror" to expose white privilege and challenge racism (Delgado and Stefancic 1997)'. The branches are not mutually exclusive nor in contention with one another [oh yes they are] nor is there a competition between the oppressions. Popular discourse still focuses on the black/white binary, however.

She is keen on Chicano/a studies and has drawn on 'the Internal Colonial model', Marxism in Bowles and Gintis and others, Chicana and black feminism in Anzaldua, hooks and Hill Collins and others, and 'cultural nationalism'. She recognises certain blindspots, however and has turned to CRT. She likes Solorzano and his five tenets — intercentricity, challenge to dominant ideology, commitment to social justice, the centrality of experiential knowledge, the utilisation of interdisciplinary approaches [which are then expanded a bit in the familiar {!} way]. She wants to apply this to education to examine the way race and racism impact structures practices and discourses to achieve social justice, refuting dominant ideology and centring the experiences of POC.

The ideology of racism is often disguised as shared values or '"neutral" social scientific principles and practices' (74), but there are victims and they can find their voice and realise their collective interests. Research among communities of colour link these to a critique of deficit theory and data, like that which sees deprivation, blaming minority students and families for poor academic performance because students lack the requisite knowledge and skills and parents do not value or support education. As a result, schools often 'default to the banking method of education critiqued by Paolo Freire' (75) [US research cited here on deficit thinking]. This is often 'coded as "cultural difference" in schools', but culture actually varies in its definition, and her definition sees it as neither fictional or static, encompassing varied identities.

Using a CRT lens, the students of SOC can be seen as possessing and nurturing and empowering culture [citing some research on Latina families]. There are funds of knowledge, various '"virtues and solidarity in African-American community and family traditions… Deeply spiritual values"' (76).

This can be described as 'cultural wealth' which leads to Bourdieu, who asserts that cultural capital can be accumulated from a family or through formal schooling, and is used by dominant groups to maintain power. This implies that there is a marked division, however, and takes white middle-class culture as the standard. This cultural capital is of course only that which is valued by privileged groups [well, he says that you clot] [her example is whether you have access to a computer at home and therefore feel at home with technological skills]. Other groups may have equally valuable skills such as being bilingual but this may not be valued in the school context.

CRT would focus on those cultures in communities of colour, drawing upon Oliver and Shapiro (1995) (77) they begin by saying that gaps in earning or income between blacks and whites focuses only on one form of capital and we should look instead at the notion of wealth, 'accumulated assets and resources': income gaps may be declining, but wealth gaps are increasing. We can draw a parallel with notions of traditional cultural capital. That is also narrowly defined and needs to be expanded [not much of a parallel really]. If we look at experiences of POC, we find different sorts of cultural wealth — 'knowledge, skills, abilities and contacts… [Used]… To survive and resist macro and micro forms of oppression'. We can see there are actually six forms of such capital: 'aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial and resistant' [citing other writers including Solorzano and Bernal], and these build upon each other — for example aspirations can sometimes develop through storytelling and advice in family contexts, as Anzaldua has asserted [with a link to all that stuff on platicas].

[The types of capital are spelled-out in more detail]. Aspirational looks particularly Disneyfied — 'the ability to maintain hopes and dreams for the future'. Chicano/as have high aspirations and maintain 'a culture of possibility'. Linguistic capital arises particularly from bilingualism and from storytelling which aids memorisation and attention to detail and so on and communicative abilities. Family capital involves a commitment to community and understanding of kinship and lessons of 'caring, coping and providing' which have emotional moral and educational implications and provide funds of knowledge (79. Social capital refers to the support people off each other through social contacts and community resources, say in attaining a college scholarship, employment or healthcare. Navigational capital refers to coping with social institutions including racially hostile ones, developing resilience and social competencies. Resistant capital turns on 'oppositional behaviour that challenges inequality' (80) [Hill Collins is particularly good on this], and examples are given from internment camps, African-American families, ways of coping with class inequality and so on.

There's been a recent edition of The Journal of African American History devoted to this topic of cultural capital as a resource and how it emerged among African-Americans and was shared and used for community mobilisation especially in education. It must be recognised in research. Communities of colour are not just places of deficit. CRT encourages us to see this. There are practical implications in the '"need to de-academize theory"' [apparently Anzaldua].