Ayala interviewed 50 Latino(a) students at Midwestern University—27 women and 23 men—to probe how they explained their academic success, discovering to her dismay that many students expressed credence in both “colorblind racism” and “abstract liberalism” while shunning affirmative action policies in support of the “free market, meritocracy, and laissez-faire ideology.”
For example, when asked to describe her success in college, a dark-skinned Latina named Carla responded that “everyone is equal and we all have the same experiences…I have [worked hard] and I deserve it.”
Sebastian, a student who is described as a “medium-skinned” Latino, also reflected on his academic achievements and failures, telling Ayala that “I guess all the mistakes have been just me…I am self-reliant.”
A student named Eduardo, meanwhile, reportedly said “I am disadvantaged, and I am very aware of that but that is not a bad thing, I just have to work harder.”
When introducing her findings, Ayala claims that students’ belief in meritocracy is symptomatic of a larger societal issue: a tendency among minorities to dismiss the notion that racism may have impacted their own educational success.