Scholar Stories: Christina Bustos

My name is Christina Bustos, Chicana, educator, mother of a four year old, daughter of a mixed race couple, and a fierce educational activist. I have been in education for 17 years, I went through ASU’s Multilingual Multicultural program and graduated in 2003. I have been working in Title I schools for the last 17 years and believe without a doubt that the work of teachers of color, sharing our history, living our lives and advocating for all students, especially those in marginalized groups, is the most important form of advocacy in education.

How do you use art or writing in your life?

I use literature to connect people.  It’s not my writing, but I use the author’s words, the author’s story to connect to the students and anyone else that I am sharing a book with.  It’s really the experience that I am looking for to connect to my students.  My hope is that students see that what they are going through is being written about in stories as well as nonfiction.  That their culture, family and community are being written about from their perspective.  Their struggle or love or whatever they are going through is communicated to let others know we are still out there.  We are still as strong as we have always been.

My hope is that others will build their own stories that they will be inspired to share their truth.  I remember about 10 years ago hoping that we would have books about Native Americans in their own style of writing, using their own dialect and words.  We have now had quite a few new stories written.  It’s one of the cultures that I see that has been erased by the history that has been told in our classrooms (not mine but in many).  I am excited for the opportunity to share stories from other cultures, written by their own people, so that my students can see that just like these other authors, their voice matters.

What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell my younger self that everything I go through in life will serve a purpose, no matter what it is, no matter how hard or easy it paves the path I have in front of me.  If I do the healing work in the case of pain and trauma I will move mountains just like the earth moves them, so will I.  Also, I would say that Grandma Bustos, my paternal grandmother who died four days before I was born truly did give me all the life she had and more.  The way she lived her life, the justice she wanted to bring to her community is something I get to do now. While there are definitely some things I would have done differently I am so glad to know that I came from strong badass Mexican American roots.

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

For newer scholars and teachers I would say something similar. Do the work of deconstructing our schooling.  Work towards decolonizing your brain, the school system itself and how we feel we need to move through society in order to be accepted. We ARE a part of society no matter what anyone else tries to tell us. Do the work so we bring our best selves forward and build healthy and strong children no matter if they are our own or the ones we nurture for a year and more.

Something else you want to share?

Never stop doing the work. Never, not even when you take a break, always return to it.

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