Garcia, an education scholar who began his career as a high school English teacher in South Central Los Angeles, has authored or edited more than a dozen books about transforming schooling in the United States. As a researcher exploring topics from civic identity and literacy practices to technology and gaming, Garcia has long centered his subjects’ voices in his work, often employing a research approach known as autoethnography.
“Autoethnography is about individuals naming their own experiences and relating them to the world around us,” Garcia said. “So instead of embedding myself in an immigrant community, for example, and then telling that story, the idea is for people who’ve been part of that community for a long time to share that expertise themselves.” He likens it to pláticas research, a Chicanx/Latinx feminist methodology in which subjects share their lived experience through one-on-one conversations.
Garcia also holds a longtime commitment to making his research accessible, frequently seeking out publicly available channels for his work over academic journals with a prohibitive paywall.
To that end, Garcia and Dick recently launched a weekly online newsletter, La Cuenta, to provide a venue for the stories of undocumented Americans. The newsletter, whose name is derived from a Spanish word referring to a bill or receipt, explores the many costs of living undocumented in the United States, financial and otherwise.
One anonymous contribution in a recent issue offered a list of dos and don’ts in learning to be undocumented, including: “Don’t get your hopes up about going to college, [because] you won’t get financial aid and we can’t afford it”; “Do drive very cautiously,” to avoid getting pulled over — and even, simply, “Don’t try to stand out.”
Another issue featured a conversation between Dick and newly elected Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez about the cost of undocumented labor. Dick also conducted a two-part interview with Jorge Xolalpa, an award-winning movie director from Mexico who recently learned that his latest film will screen at the Cannes Film Festival next spring but shared that, even with DACA protection, he can’t safely leave the country to attend his own premiere.