Learning through Protest: The Language of Critique and the Language of Possibility


  • Tomas Castro Nieto San Francisco State University




The purpose of this study is to explore student protesters’ motivation and behaviors
during the spring 2016 protest against the budget cuts within the College of Ethnic
Studies at San Francisco State University. Analysis of the student interview
transcriptions revealed four overarching themes: articulation, community and
organizing, empowerment and agency, and sustainability. The theme of articulation
focuses on the participants’ abilities to articulate their identity, oppression and their
resistance. Community and organizing analyzes the strategic elements that the
students utilize and bonding through collective action. Empowerment and agency
encompasses the students’ will and capacity to protest. Sustainability embodies the
preservation of Ethnic Studies and the students’ pursuits of social justice. The study
reveals the power of grassroots organizing in response to oppression; this protest is
situated within a larger dialogue of oppression facing communities of color; and a
counter dialogue of resilience, demonstrated by communities of color, is situated in
response to oppression.

Author Biography

Tomas Castro Nieto, San Francisco State University

Tomas Nieto holds degrees from San Diego State University and San Francisco State University.  He currently lives in California.


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