Rooster Tails, Ranflas, and Rags: The Language and Literacy Practices of Latin Lowriders in San Antonio, TX
This study sought to understand the meaning of literacy by examining the language and literacy practices found outside of academic institutions. By looking at the social practices of a lowrider community, multiple and diverse literacies were uncovered and made visible to outsiders of these non-mainstream communities.
The focal participants in this study identified as Mexican, Hispanic, and Latina lowriders living in San Antonio, Texas. Three of the participants were members and presidents of local lowrider car clubs. The data for this study was gathered during a period of about five years and included participant observations, fieldnotes, interviews, and audio and video recordings collected during car shows, car club meetings, and social gatherings organized around cruises and hop offs. An analysis of documents and data was also conducted. The analysis of the data collected in this study revealed five themes that contributed to answering the research questions: (1) Literacy practices are patterned by social practices; 2) Digital tools such as Facebook and YouTube are purposeful; (3) Text is anything that involves meaning communicated through symbols that include spoken words (oral/written), actions, sounds, and images that members interpret according to their social and cultural contexts; (4) Lowrider identities are multiple and constructed through lowrider language, lowrider values, lowrider cars and bikes, and lowrider dress; and (5) Lowrider Discourses are mastered through apprenticeship. The five themes that emerged from the results of this study support literacy as always embedded within the social and cultural constructs of lowriding.