A powerful and challenging look at what “success” and belonging mean in America, through the eyes of Latino high schoolers striving toward community- and care-focused futures.
This book challenges dominant representations of the so-called American Dream, those “patriotic” narratives that focus on personal achievement as the way to become an American. This narrative misaligns with the lived experience of many first- and second-generation Latino immigrant youth who thrive because of the nurture of their loved ones. A story of social reproduction and change, The Succeeders illustrates how ideological struggles over who belongs in this country, who is valuable, and who is an American are worked out by young people through their ordinary acts of striving in school and caring for friends and family.
In this eye-opening ethnography of education, Andrea Flores examines the experiences of everyday high school student, some undocumented, some citizen, and some from families with mixed legal status. She tracks how the Succeeders—Latino immigrant-origin youth in a Tennessee college access program—leverage educational success toward national belonging for themselves, their family, friends, and community. Succeeders strive not for personal gain but because they are committed to reinvesting in their communities and expanding their capacity to care for extended families and friends. These young people come to redefine national belonging in the United States by both conforming to and contesting the myth of an American identity rooted in individual betterment. Despite being the focus of xenophobic ire, the Succeeders challenge the boundaries of national inclusion. Their efforts demonstrate that meaningful national belonging can be based in our actions of caring for others. Ultimately, The Succeeders emphasizes the vital role that immigrants play throughout the United States in strengthening the social fabric of society, helping communities everywhere to thrive.