Playing Past Racial Silence

Cultivating Conversations on Racial Identity through Sports-Related Young Adult Literature


  • MICHAEL DOMÍNGUEZ San Diego State University



Too often, classroom conversations and literature choices frame race in homogenizing terms, equating racial identity solely with the experience of marginalization. This can have a chilling effect on students whose cultural context has made race an inaccessible topic, positioning conversations about racial identity beyond their zone of proximal development. Leveraging reflections from student-athletes and an analysis of three YA texts, the authors argue that sports-centered YA literature, by normalizing depictions of race, might be leveraged to serve as a critical entry point for robust classroom conversations about the complexity of racial identity, adding nuance and accessibility to a taboo subject.

Author Biographies

MICHAEL DOMÍNGUEZ , San Diego State University

MICHAEL DOMÍNGUEZ is an Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies at San Diego State University. His research focuses on the schooling and life experiences of Chicana/o youth, and how decolonial frameworks can inform teacher praxis. His current projects involve examining the intersections of sports and racial identity in youth development, and preparing educators to teach ethnic studies at the K-12 level with fidelity to decolonial, antiracist principles.


ALICE DOMÍNGUEZ is a secondary English teacher in San Diego, California. Her course load includes World literature, English-language development, and AP English Language and Composition. During her 14-year career, she has taught in public, charter, and private contexts across four different states, and is passionate about creating authentic and community-based literacy and research experiences for students.



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