Bakersfield College

Full Testimonial from Deborah Tinoco

Return to #LightACandle: A Juneteenth Celebration page

Deborah Tinoco
I received an email from my Area Dean, Richard McGrow to participate and let my voice be heard. He asked the department to add our thoughts and ideas about injustice, racism, police brutality, and the demonstrations. Thank you Dean McCrow for the invitation; I’ve kept quiet too long because my voice may not be well received. But, I know time has come for me to give voice to those like me, a Mex. Am. woman born and raised in Bakersfield, CA who persisted in the face obstacles and barriers wanting to return to her community to serve as a role model to others like me. First and foremost, I believe BC cannot serve the community as a model of justice and equality because it is an institution rife with a lack of equity and representation that would allow our students to persist and thrive. I know the Mission Statement states, “Our rigorous and supportive learning environment promotes equity” and diversity is a core value but the statistics demonstrate practices do not support the stated mission and the core value of diversity stated by the College. Statistically, our students are primarily Latina (female and Mexican, Mexican American) yet our faculty (counselors not included) are primarily white and evenly male and female. I’ve attended Latino community meetings where administrators met with community, faculty, staff, and students to receive input so the College can be responsive to the Latino community and at every event, students will bring up the fact, “I don’t see myself in the classroom.” Meaning there is not representation of Latinos amongst those who impact student persistence and success most directly, classroom faculty. I just stopped going to these because it was frustrating to watch administrators ignore students’ pleas for representation among instructional faculty and it was feudal to believe change would occur. There are some departments with some representation but for the most part, no. As a good example, look at the Behavior Science Department where I work as an adjunct lecturer. You will not find one full-time tenure track Latina. Is this due to a lack of available Latinas with the education and experience? I know this answer is, “no”. Could it be unconscious bias? Or is it something else? I cannot say for certain but what I do know is that there is a lack of representation and it impacts student outcomes because research on this topic demonstrates that representation of own race teachers, “teachers like me” positively impact persistence and achievement. Maybe a solution to improvement in outcomes and goals could be helped with a commitment to better representation of classroom full-time tenure-track faculty. I will proffer that it may be an issue of a lack of representation amongst those who make decisions. A quick look at the President’s organizational chart demonstrates that there is also no Latina at the level of Dean of Instruction and above. Sure, some Program Directors but again, this is not at an instructional, regular, and direct student contact. This is not to say that Administrators are intentionally not ensuring the mission is met and the core values practice, it is likely a lack of awareness. I do believe that in this case of injustice and racism, BC cannot serve to be a place where the community comes to discuss our community’s problems if, itself, is unaware and contributes to the social problem.
And that is a preface to my position on police brutality and the social dynamics of race and law enforcement in our community. It appears to be a lack of awareness in part and inherent or unconscious bias or “blue” culture as another part. I was raised in a law enforcement family that had a military foundation. I have several family members that continue to work in law enforcement and so I know what happens and is said behind closed doors. Every occupation has their venting behind closed doors and as a teacher I know what teachers say behind closed doors as well. Teachers also take an “us vs. them” mentality in the breakroom so I understand that part of law enforcement culture, “us vs. them”. The difference, however, is that teachers do not have weapons attached to us and our culture is to educate and uplift. I have often been ridiculed by my father and amongst other family who are law enforcement professionals. As a liberal brown girl, I was called a, “femi-nazi” often by my father and his brother because I believed that women should be empowered and not domesticated. How is that fascist? It is not, but that was not what it was about. It was about their occupational and military culture. It was about their desire to retain their power, position, and demean others in an effort of affirmation and self-preservation. What is the fix? A paradigm shift in the culture. A paradigm shift in the purpose of their occupation. A paradigm shift in who “them” are and a paradigm shift in the values and virtues of their institution.
As a sociologist, I support the non-violent demonstrations and I fully understand the violence psychologically and theoretically. Psychologically, expression of oneself is cathartic and allows one to feel empowered and less oppressed. Theoretically, Karl Marx discussed the dialectic in capitalism, so the uprising is predictable to me. And Hegel’s dialectic gives a greater understanding of the movement. Hegel believed that we should not see history and progress as a straight line but more like a crisscross where people bump into obstacles and barriers, face disappointments, and then readjust their course. This is just a readjustment. Our community can benefit from a recognition of needed change, commitment to improvement, and dedication to understand better. This comes through what Paulo Freire called, “critical consciousness”. Using Freire pedagogy, we can make the necessary adjustments in our local institutions to serve as a model for other communities facing the same social problems.

Deborah Tinoco - Adjunct Instructor of Behavioral Sciences, Bakersfield College