Decolonizing Digital Storytelling: An Introduction
Digital storytelling has become a familiar genre in computer and composition scholarship, sometimes framed within pedagogical exigencies for multimodal composing (Comer and Harker; Kirtley; Yang). Multimodal composing can underscore how orality and aurality offer potential for communities of color with long oral traditions that often include storytelling (Banks; Selfe; Villanueva). In Testimonio: On the Politics of Truth, John Beverley draws attention to the Latinx storytelling practice of testimonio (testimony) and highlights the ethos of the genre as one that “speaks truth to power.” Latinx critical race theory (LatCrit) scholars have begun to advocate the centrality of testimonio in digital spaces because of its agentive effects on student identity that also contribute to community building. The genre of digital testimonio is undergirded by the centrality of experiential knowledge in LatCrit scholarship that challenges the dominant narratives normalizing and dismissing the systemic oppression of people and communities of color. I posit that the integration of digital testimonio into writing courses would benefit diverse student populations because the ability to write for a public audience works against the experience of feeling silenced as a so-called imposter, an affirmative action beneficiary, or a scholarship student who does not belong. Digital testimonio exposes students who do not experience systemic or institutional oppression to experiences that inform them of their roles as allies.
This chapter shows how personal stories in culturally relevant multimodal storytelling contribute to scholarship that has been excluded from the landscape of academic print literacy. I build on Ellen Cushman’s assertion in “Wampum, Sequoyan, and Story: Decolonizing the Digital Archive” that a digital story “represents the social practices of storytelling as epistemological activities” (116). Testimonios including digital ones, contribute to decolonial knowledge that breaks from—and often speaks against—dominant colonial narratives, thereby providing sites of knowledge production for examination. In this chapter, I look at the culturally relevant multimodal writing practice of digital testimonio, a genre whose features overlap with traditional digital storytelling; however, digital testimonio articulates an exigent methodology for marginalized populations to resist dominant narratives. Digital testimonio is a Latinx digital writing practice that makes use of the different semiotic affordances of multimodal communication in online environments, and it embodies a resistant ethos in an academic space to engage with issues of race, class, gender, and disability. The digital genre of testimonio affords further opportunities to communicate these messages of an individual “speaking truth to power” through modes that do not require authorization by the gatekeepers of traditional platforms of publication and media distribution. This connects with my earlier work, in which I examined how Latinx rhetoric and composition scholars create decolonial knowledge with blogs. Similarly, testimonio also “demonstrates how digital spaces can provide alternative platforms (Haas) for discursive practices that challenge and complicate colonial standards, traditions, and narratives about writing” (Medina “Poch@” 96).
Digital Footprint: Background
Having maintained my blog, Academia de Cruz Medina (AcademiaDeCruz.com), since 2008, I have asserted that the deliberate curation of online space not only assembles new media objects for meaning-making but also archives collaborations that create—or at the very least contribute to—the creation of decolonial knowledge.1 The power of social networks to build knowledge and provide support is what drew me to my previous work with Twitter and Latinx students,2 and it continually reaffirms my belief in the potential of culturally relevant digital storytelling. In 2011, I began asking some of my Latinx colleagues, primarily those in rhetoric and composition, to contribute blog posts on issues of ethnicity, language, and authenticity. The blog featured several dynamic and insightful posts from scholars including Aja Martinez, Marissa Juarez, Enrique Reynoso, and Natalie Martinez.
Poignantly, Natalie Martinez’s post, “Poch@ as Queer Racial Melancholia,” exceeds the boundaries of text and images set by other contributors through her inclusion of video, taking greater advantage of the capacities of digital writing environments. In doing so, Martinez illuminates the intersections between Latinx storytelling and digital writing. Martinez presents a digital narrative with the ethos of testimonio that addresses issues of patriarchy, queer identity, and memory. Inspired by Martinez’s video, I drafted a digital story based on a vignette about race, teaching, and fatherhood that I wrote for College Composition and Communication (CCC), for the 2013 special issue on the profession. At first, I imagined that such a video might complement the written piece in much the same way that Martinez’s video provides additional contextual visual and aural messages. What I found, and what I argue here, is that the multimodal genre of digital testimonio has the potential to more effectively communicate messages than purely alphabetic texts because the genre draws rhetorical power from additional semiotic resources and experiential knowledge, thereby allowing individuals to speak their truth orally and visually against the dismissive silence of a powerful majority.
On its own, testimonio can be loosely translated as “testimony,” and, like its English counterpart, the word has connotations related to courts and religion. However, testimonio as a genre in Latin America has come to embody a critical practice, much like the familiar motto of “speaking truth to power.” Storytelling has been regarded in rhetoric and composition as a method of knowledge creation (Blackmon, Kirklighter, and Parks; Roen, Brown, and Enos; Trimmer)—many times with regard to the field’s evolution—as well as a contested genre of alphabetic writing on par with Standard Academic English (Shroeder, Fox, and Bizzell; Spigelman). As far back as 1993, Jay David Bolter asserted in the journal Computers and Composition that academic argumentation demonstrates “the love of narrative [because it] expresses itself in the demand for a consistent line of argument with an implied narrative voice” (10). Digital storytelling then gains communicative efficacy from the familiar logic of narrative in storytelling as well as the “logic of space [that] governs the image,” which Gunther Kress asserts is central to new media literacy (115).
Additionally, digital testimonio offers a pedagogical practice that includes a composition framework grounded in LatCrit, which emphasizes the centrality of experiential knowledge and social justice as an outcome. The intersection of testimonio and digital storytelling allows individuals to communicate experiences about which they have previously been silenced by the limited intended audience of monomodal writing. The digital testimonies examined here provide sites of analysis that begin to answer the following questions: (1) How can culturally relevant digital storytelling help familiarize underrepresented writing students with multimodal practices? (2) How can culturally relevant multimodal practices from a nondominant perspective promote literacy and engage public audiences, extending the community of learners beyond the classroom? (3) How might digital practices informed by LatCrit methodologies contribute to student agency with regard to social justice issues?
Storytelling, testimonio, and LatCrit Methodology
In addition to the history of how testimonio emerged from “subaltern” voices and its inclusion in current Latina feminist collaborative and pedagogical practices, the genre of storytelling has a tradition in the field of rhetoric and composition. Framed by the discussion of narration and reflection, storytelling provides a way to create and transmit knowledge as a means of metacognitively reflecting on the field and on experiences in the profession. In rhetoric and composition, it has been argued that storytelling is an effective mode of argumentation because “[n]o fact or story is of itself ‘evidence’ because evidence is constructed rhetorically and then accepted and endorsed as material. Thus, what counts as evidential is determined by those positioned to credentialize and validate particular objects or discourses” (Spigelman 66). Storytelling is persuasive because arguments and ‘Truth’ are understood to be contextual and rhetorical in nature. For those who might question the rhetorical nature of storytelling, Mary Louise Pratt classifies testimonio more concretely as a methodology when she “describe[s] testimonio, memorably, as autoethnography” (Beverley xiii). Whether it is autoethnography or storytelling, testimonio rhetorically communicates a narrative with a social justice agenda that addresses the issues affecting a particular community.
Storytelling often helps make meaning from an experience, although advocating for social justice is not the inherent purpose of storytelling. In testimonio: On the Politics of Truth, John Beverley explains, “[T]estimonio aspires not only to interpret the world but also to change it” (xvi). Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of testimonio is I, Rigoberta Menchú, in which a Guatemalan guerilla fighter tells of her experiences with the government that stole her family’s land and killed members of her family and many others in the process of displacing the indigenous population. The reception and subsequent criticism of I, Rigoberta Menchú have raised questions of translation and mediation because Menchú tells her story through a translator. At the same time, the most damning criticisms of her testimonio have been allegations that her stories are not factually accurate; details such as her presence at the murders of her brother and mother called the validity of her testimonio, and perhaps the genre of testimonio, into question. However, testimonio scholar Beverley argues that becoming mired in the ‘Truth’ of testimonio ignores the purpose of the counterhegemonic space created: “[I]t is what really happened, ‘the real thing,’ truth versus lie—the Big Lie of racism, imperialism, inequality, class rule, genocide, torture, oppression—that is at stake in testimonio” (3). Though testimonio might be challenged on the grounds of “historical inaccuracy,” the political and collective import of the genre transcends the overreliance on the authority of dominant historical fictions as the determining factor for what is true for all experiences.
The Latinx storytelling practice of testimonio not only bears the rhetorical element of contextualized truth, but also has been incorporated as a critical methodology for addressing issues of social justice. While there are other Latinx storytelling genres, such as cuentos (stories) and consejos (advice), testimonio embodies the mission articulated by the theoretical underpinnings of critical race theory (CRT) and the genre of counterstory. Specifically, the attention to the knowledge gained by experience is an aspect of CRT and LatCrit that supports the use of an individual’s storytelling to speak to a collective marginalized experience. In “Disrupting Apartheid of Knowledge: testimonio as Methodology in Latina/o Critical Race Research in Education,” Lindsay Huber Pérez asserts: “[T]estimonio can contribute to the growing scholarship on critical race methodologies, which seeks to disrupt the apartheid of knowledge in academia, moving toward educational research guided by racial and social justice for Communities of Color” (640). Testimonio functions in much the same way as counterstory, which Aja Martinez outlines for the fields of writing and rhetorical studies in Composition Studies, revealing the marginalized experience or cumulative experiences and testifying rhetorically in opposition to dominant, stock stories about minoritized and racialized experiences. Examining the rhetorical intersections of testimonio and multimodal storytelling provides a way to analyze culturally relevant practices that take place in concert with societal and institutional pushes for the digital humanities.
Digital Storytelling, Multimodal Writing, and the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives
Storytelling has, in fact, gone digital for many years, creating spaces for individuals to tell their stories and speak their truths. John Lambert’s Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community emerges as a perennial text because it is the result of the work of the Center for Digital Storytelling at StoryCenter.org. Below is a screenshot from the Center for Digital Storytelling, a resource for teaching educators the process of digital composing.
For years, Lambert and others have provided workshops on digital storytelling, often training teachers to create their own stories and teach students to produce theirs. In much the same way rhetoric and composition scholars employ storytelling as a reflective practice, Lambert explains, “what is more complex is describing how video editing, particularly with the addition of photograph manipulation and special effects, is in itself a powerful new set of reflective tools” (92). Lambert’s text provides clear-cut explanations with step-by-step instructions for putting together a digital story; however, these instructions can at times seem too prescriptive given that stories and meanings can shift with the integration of new images or artifacts and even based on the narrator’s tone. Advocates of digital storytelling in writing studies recognize the complicated interplay between “the concepts of semiotic mediation and cultural artifacts with identity formation and agency” (Hull and Katz 46). Although the Center for Digital Storytelling uses multimodal compositions to address issues on which people have been silenced, the organization also has a broader mission that is not always relevant to the traditions of communities of color.
Cynthia Selfe espouses the benefits of integrating multimodal practices for students of color by acknowledging the oral and aural traditions of these communities, which were traditionally excluded from educational institutions. In “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing,” Selfe points out the exclusivity of print literacy as the singular mode of communication: “[T]he almost exclusive dominance of print literacy works against the interests of individuals whose cultures and communities have managed to maintain a value on multiple modalities of expression, multiple and hybrid ways of knowing, communicating, and establishing identity” (618). In On Multimodality: New Media in Composition Studies, Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes extend Selfe’s argument as they problematize the imperative of new media objects serving written texts. Although print literacy is a rhetorically effective medium for knowledge building, it can also be a mode that excludes the literacy practices of some minoritized populations.
Speaking specifically about Latinx communities, Selfe addresses the importance of cultural relevance:
As evidence of the valuing of nonprint literacy, Selfe created the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) at Ohio State University, providing an opportunity for students and scholars to record stories about their experiences with becoming literate. The DALN has compiled diverse collections, such as stories by female African-American professors, undergraduate students of color, deaf and hard-of-hearing contributors, and social activists. When contributing to the DALN my piece titled “My Literacy Is Cultural,” I appreciated the space to tell culturally relevant stories about my Mexican-American father, who lamented his family’s poverty because my grandfather, who was a gardener, could not afford to pay for a magazine subscription. Below is a screenshot of the record of my contribution to the DALN.
Multimodal composing with video and audio recordings facilitates culturally relevant genres, such as digital testimonio, that writing teachers should feel motivated to integrate because these genres expose students to digital writing practices. This exposure is particularly important because of the growing demand for students to have digital portfolios and for graduates to know how to compose in digital writing genres, such as instructional video. Steven Fraiberg notes that the kinds of literacy skills developed in multimodal composing “increase the bandwidth of semiotic resources for communication in order to make available all means of persuasion” (102). Richard and Cynthia Selfe emphasize the fact that “students need to learn how to convince real audiences—not just teachers—how to confront rich, meaningful, and complex communication tasks” (84). For marginalized student groups who do not go to school or who grow up in homes without the same access to technology as more privileged students, integrating culturally relevant technologies has the potential to engage literacy practices they might passively or actively resist. Digital literacy skills and video composition projects should become more central in all writing pedagogies in order to prepare students to engage with audiences in modes and genres they will be expected to know in professional writing contexts.
Digital testimonios as multimodal compositions have the potential to promote literacy by broadening audiences’ perspectives and engaging with the public in a mode that resists dominant narratives while providing a platform for making the personal into the collective. In Telling to Live: Latina Feminist testimonios, the Latina Feminist Group engages in testimonio as a methodology for recognizing differences, finding common ground, and making their lives “a source of inquiry” (2). Their personal stories “show how knowledge of and from their everyday lives is the basis for theorizing and constructing an evolving political praxis to address the material conditions in which they live” (ix-x). Dolores Delgado Bernal and others point to the Latina Feminist Group as their inspiration, noting that “[t]hey (re)claim testimonio as a text written by and for Latinas (or other marginalized groups) to theorize oppression, resistance, and subjectivity” (366). I identify the video below, by rhetoric and composition scholar Natalie Martinez, as a good example of digital testimonio because it theorizes oppression as it addresses issues of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and historical injury.
I begin with Natalie Martinez’s multimodal composition from her AcademiadeCruz.com contribution as an example of digital testimonio because it illuminates the interplay of the oral and aural traditions while communicating a resistant message about the historical pain inflicted by patriarchy. Five minutes and fifty-five seconds into the video, the voice of Martinez’s father says from behind the camera, “This is for all the guys that I work with.” The young women on camera smile and wave to the camera, and the next few seconds cut to the slow-motion movement of a woman walking across the screen, expressing what might be read as a disapproving or uncomfortable glance at the camera. Martinez’s digital testimonio evidences how the genre “involves an urgent voice of resistance to social injustices” (Benmayor 510). The voice-over narration from the present layered over the home video from the past demonstrates how past experiences resonate in the contemporary moment.
The home video is the aural-visual subject of the majority of Martinez’s testimonio, connecting the emotion from the home video’s private space with the narration’s description of physical pain. Eight minutes in, Martinez evidences the rhetorical power available in the genre when she explains, “I lose my memory. I also lose the ability to digest food. Paresis, they call it, paralyze.” The specificity of Martinez’s story speaks to the collective issues that the genre has the scope to address: “[Through] digital testimonios that address issues of immigration, body image, lengua [language], belonging, betraying our traditional gender roles . . . we continue to experience how memory, speaking, and writing are linked to identity trans(formations), empowerment, and social change” (Flores and Garcia 156).
The male gaze of the camera lingers on Martinez’s uncomfortable, or bored, teenage self, with the voice-over speaking about emotional loss and physical suffering. The archival video invites the audience to take an intimate look at the speaker’s vulnerable experiences, while the voice-over narration communicates personal knowledge and secondary scholarship.
Inspired by Martinez’s video, my own example of digital testimonio stems from the small-scope narrative about the profession in the September 2013 special issue of CCC. In the terminology of testimonio, the narrative comes from my papelitos guardados, or the secrets I guarded on paper, that told my experiences (Acevedo 20). My multimodal story performs a digital testimonio as it addresses an individual, complex issue of biracial experience and a message that is enhanced by the nonlinear recursive process of multimodal composing.
My testimonio begins in medias res with a grainy home movie of a man with a guitar, who is later introduced as my father. He plays “Happy Birthday” while my aunt behind the camera pans to me as an adolescent on the couch. She asks my young, awkward self, “How’s it going, birthday boy?” The camera rests uncomfortably on me as I twitch and adjust to feign ease on my grandmother’s itchy couch. The extended hovering of the family home video on a relatively inactive figure communicates the discomfort of the video’s subject as the audience is thrust into a private family moment. The stark guitar transitioning from the family video into the next slides performs the compositing, or layering of multiple modalities, that creates meaning by juxtaposing the upbeat family scene with the introduction to the theme of racism in the narration. For some audiences, the mention of racism parallels the nervous shifting of the adolescent. The home video situates the discussion within a particular context, and the other modes communicate through the logic of “the unique repertoire of tools, resources, relationships, and cultural artifacts—the semiotic means, if you will—that are available at particular historical moments in particular social and cultural contexts” (Hull and Katz 47). The intrusive voice of the narrator has the ability to further complicate the tone and meaning of the scenes through the mention of historical context, knowledge, or insight that is not visually represented.
Commonplace themes of birthdays, marriage, death, birth, fathers, children, and teaching come together to undergird the marginalized biracial experience that is simultaneously individual and collective. The images of my mother and her parents connect with a larger audience. The reconciliation of parents with their children appeals to viewers who understand the complexities of these relationships, though the audience might not connect with the theme of disownment over racial discrimination. The voice-over imposes a narrative logic on the images displayed on the screen because “digital stories, as instances of verbal performances, do not simply reflect social life, but have the capacity to comment critically on it as well” (Hull and Katz 69). In doing so, digital testimonio moves “beyond speaking from the voice of the singular ‘I’ to exploring the ways in which our individual identities and experiences express the complexities and connections of our communities as a whole” (Acevedo 20). In my testimonio, the use of my father’s image with Cesar Chavez and the images of me with Chicanx writer Luis Alberto Urrea reinforce the importance of community that my father passed along. In a thematically similar way, Urrea’s collection of nonfiction stories called Nobody’s Son describes the tensions that arose from his bicultural, mixed-race experience with a white mother and a Mexican father.
In my testimonio, the image of me with the activist Dolores Huerta, in the context of the voice-over mentioning discrimination, offers a response to my family’s experience with racism. Rina Benmayor explains that there are differences within the genre of testimonio that allow for diverse and conflicting perspectives: “[S]ome testimonios are more visibly oppositional than others, speaking to mainstream injustices and also to the oppression from within their own cultures” (520). Images of me with my son reinforce the connection between my father and my son, even though my son was born five years after my father’s death. The images of my infant son further reiterate the topic of fatherhood, which is more poignant within the context of my mother’s having been disowned by her parents. The logic of the screen also affords more semiotic layers of meaning, especially considering that the original prompt for the print narrative, which inspired my digital testimonio, addressed the theme of the teaching profession.
At its conclusion, the video clip brings together what was introduced with very little context in the opening; by now, the audience recognizes my father and can clearly hear his voice as he sings “Happy Birthday to Cruz” after the alphabetic title slide reaffirms the fact that my son and my father share the same birthday. The clip lasts a few seconds, longer than most of the images and slides, but it communicates the underlying feeling of loss that persists throughout the narrative. The intimate guitar performance of my father at the close of the video contributes to the overall rhetorical efficacy of the digital testimonio, due to the audience’s awareness of his death and of the lives of his grandchildren whom he will never know. An early rough edit of the home video is a few seconds longer and includes my father joking with my aunt, who is behind the camera. To maintain the tone, the final video fades before this interaction, which could take the viewer out of the moment. The overlaid photo of me as a small child on my father’s shoulders pulls the audience away from the comforting past where my father still lives. The concluding fade echoes and potentially mimics the fleeting nature of the dream mentioned in the voice-over.
Pedagogically, digital testimonio offers a culturally relevant alternative for teaching students a great deal about the composing process, genre, and audience expectations. In addition, the semiotic translation from a written text to a multimodal composition helps students understand the rhetorical decision-making necessary to strategically incorporate appropriate images, videos, music, and narration. Translating the cultural ecologies from oral testimonio practices to a digital writing environment further demonstrates the complexity of semiotic conversion and how, as Fleckenstein states, “the ecological metaphor imagines writing as a web of interlocking social, material, and semiotic relationships and practices conceptualized as clusters or ‘knots’” (qtd. in Fraiberg 105). Digital testimonio presents a complex knot of literacies, modes, and cultural practices paralleling preexisting understandings of multimodal possibilities. In particular, testimonio can help unravel the authority enmeshed in accepted facts, arguments, and evidence because “[testimonio] would allow us to recognize what academic knowledge is in fact: not the truth, but a form of truth, among many others, that has fed processes of emancipation and enlightenment” (Beverley 7). As a genre accessible to public audiences, it is informed by radically local research, whether through lived experiences offering alternative epistemologies or building on existing ways of knowing.
In terms of pedagogical outcomes, multimodal composing provides explicit examples of the tangible effects of the revision process. The use of archival videos further demonstrates what Megan Fulwiler and Kim Middleton call the “new recursivity” presented in multimodal composing that “underscores the ways that a stage model of the composing process is ill-equipped to represent the new paradigm of information-age meaning-making” (44). In the analysis and composition of digital testimonio, the addition and subtraction of semiotic elements highlights the impact of revision in a way that cutting and adding lines of alphabetic text does not. The new recursivity resonates particularly in my digital testimonio because the archival video was added only in the later stages of drafting my digital testimonio; I had received the home video footage transferred to DVD as a Christmas gift from my father’s younger brother. The video enhances the efficacy of the digital testimonio, demonstrating the significance of revision in the multimodal composing process.
The incorporation of archival home videos in digital testimonio is a particularly effective rhetorical strategy because the decision-making in the selection of clip, clip length, and framing of the video by the voice-over provides the scenes with a narrative logic. Fulwiler and Middleton explain, “[E]ach new scene, no matter how carefully designed, contains the elements for new thematic, imagistic, or narrative possibilities that must be accounted for. The ‘story’ of the meaning of the narrative needs to remain open to revision and redirection as the composer engages multiple modalities” (44).
The option of using archival home videos specifically allows minoritized students to present what feels intimately singular while connecting with and reflecting a larger-group experience. Benmayor effectively summarizes the role of digital testimonio when she writes: “[D]igital testimonio. . . gives urgent and powerful voice to individual and collective Latinx experiences and allows for broader, more democratic authorship, dissemination, and reception” (508). Although Latinx people are not a monolith but possess a large spectrum of diverse experiences, digital testimonio creates a digital writing environment for the voices of individuals who feel isolated to connect with audiences who share difficult memories that have heretofore gone unspoken.
Digital testimonio incorporates digital storytelling while reinforcing social justice–oriented pedagogy that appeals to students of color who have had experiences of being minoritized. It creates a culturally relevant space for Latinx students while providing non-Latinx students a similar space to address their own subjectivity and how they can be allies. At the same time, the digital storytelling genre complicates how students conceptualize themselves in unfamiliar knots of semiotic representation as they “negotiate the meaning of the text through . . . different perspectives while determining patterns of interpretations” (Strasma 272). Genres of multimodal composing that integrate diverse cultural practices have the potential to engage minoritized student populations while reinforcing digital literacies that “digital natives” are expected to know but often do not.
Since the print publication of my small-scope vignette in CCC, I remain relatively unaware of how the written text has been received. In contrast, the public viewings of my digital testimonio provide more immediate engagement with my audience. Even though voices of color do not frequently reach mainstream audiences, the efficacy of digital composing and the disruptions that these new media objects create by their existence and distribution through social media challenge assumptions about the abilities and computer literacy of communities of color. The resounding digital voice, which testimonio and multimodal writing support, generates a communicative space that speaks to the cultural relevance of students whose truths resist hegemonic assumptions embedded in so-called knowledge about them. Digital testimonio offers perspectives on experiences for communities that have traditionally been observed and mediated without many opportunities to voice their own experiences. In oppressed communities, the ability to produce online projects is not expected. With digital literacy as the new digital divide, students’ parents are proud of their children’s digital literacy, and students feel better prepared to use available modes, resources, and semiotic bandwidth to share experiences about which they may have been previously silenced in white institutions. Once students know they have the opportunity to address these complicated issues, these projects provide them with an authentic goal-based outcome for a real audience. Multimodal composing with a culturally situated framework illuminates fictional histories, colonial narratives and logics of oppression that manifest and can be best expressed in the stories of individuals who have been told to remain silent. These new media testimonio composers become authorities and interlocutors as they guide the conversation to the topics, voices, and experiences that have been ignored, dismissed, or (mis)represented by the dominant shorthand.
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Cruz Medina is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Santa Clara University. He is a Bannan Institute Scholar on Racial and Ethnic Justice and teaches courses on writing and culture, digital composing, social justice and literacy, and first-year composition. His book Reclaiming Poch@ Pop: Examining the Rhetoric of Cultural Deficiency (Palgrave 2015) analyzes recent anti-Latinx legislation in Arizona and the pop culture produced in opposition to these laws. Medina’s writing has also appeared in College Composition and Communication, Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society and Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing, and Service Learning and will appear in forthcoming collections on Latin@ rhetoric and decolonialism. His current research includes ethnographic research with Latin@ immigrants in the East Bay.