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SCU Prof Examines Justice Through ESL

Medina examines dehumanization of undocumented men and women in America

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By Ally O’Connor ‘20

Cruz Medina first became interested in working with undocumented men and women in 2010 when, while in pursuit of his doctorate in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Arizona, the state passed two bills, SB1070 and HB2281. Respectively, the laws permitted law enforcement to ask anyone for their documentation under just “reasonable suspicion,” and banned the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools.  “The passing of SB1070 and HB2281 stirred an interest [in me] in helping those whom I felt were treated unjustly,” comments Medina.

Three years later, after moving to Santa Clara to teach English at SCU, Medina began teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to undocumented men and women at the Primera Iglesias Presbyteriana Hispana Church in East Oakland in order to help them communicate more fluently and comfortably in their new communities. Simultaneously, Medina began a scholarly project called the “Economy of Exclusion,” in which he explores “the American Dream” and those in pursuit of it, many of whom originally fled violence in their home countries only to discover more challenges in the United States.

As a result of teaching ESL courses, Medina notes that he has gained a deeper understanding for how people can be “used and dehumanized in this country,” as well as a new perspective on the idea of sustainability “as it applies to not only the environment, but also people and how we take care of them.”

Medina has just published Racial Shorthand, a collection of essays co-edited by Octavio Pimentel that examines these topics.

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