In Chapter six of Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain, Zaretta Hammond speaks to the institutional inequities that students of color face. (Hammond, 2015) Institutional inequities are “the realities of education in the sociopolitical context that creates unequal academic outcomes for students of color, English learners and poor students”. (Hammond, 2015, p. 90) When students lack quality resources and educators, they struggle to learn and lack the basic foundation to thrive and succeed academically. In San Diego the contrast can be seen neighborhood to neighborhood. Areas such as La Jolla, Del Mar and Carmel Valley tend to have less diverse students and greater access to resources. On the contrary, neighborhoods like National City, Southeast San Diego and San Ysidro, have more diverse students and less revenue for schools.
Another barrier to learning is internalized oppression. Hammond describes internalized oppression “whereby the student internalizes the negative social messages about his racial group, begins to believe them, and loses confidence.” (Hammond, 2015, p. 91) Internalized oppression, just like learned helplessness and stereotype threat, are ways in which students of color internalize the stereotypes and discrimination thrust upon them. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to observe a leadership training for Hispanic community college administrators. One participant, a Latina with a PhD, said that she had once been an at risk student. She went on to say “at-risk students become at-risk professionals!” This statement resonated with my own experience and I think that the effects of internalizing stereotypes and learned helplessness linger into our adult lives.