Democracy Remixed

Democracy Remixed

Democracy Remixed

Democracy Remixed

Synopsis

While Barack Obama's victory led many to believe that America's racial divide had significantly narrowed, if not been eliminated, the facts belie this. Black youth today continue to be plagued by low levels of employment, high levels of incarceration, and a profound lack of trust in thegovernment and broader political community. Yet discussions of why this is have been largely anecdotal, often putting the blame on black youth themselves - even when the commentators are also black. Think of Bill Cosby's criticism, for example, or the writings of Stanley Crouch and Juan Williams. In Democracy Remixed , award-winning scholar Cathy J. Cohen offers an authoritative and empirically powerful analysis of the state of black youth in America today. Utilizing the results from the Black Youth Project, a groundbreaking nationwide survey, Cohen focuses on what young Black Americansactually experience and think--and underscores the political repercussions. Featuring their stories from cities across the country, she reveals that black youth want, in large part, what most Americans want - a good job, a fulfilling life, safety, respect, and equality. But while this generationshares much in common with the rest of America, they also believe that equality does not yet exist, at least not in their lives. Many believe that they are treated as second-class citizens. Moreover, for many the future seems bleak when they look at their neighborhoods, their schools, and even theirown lives and choices. Through their words, these young people provide a complex and balanced picture of the intersection of opportunity and discrimination in their lives.

Excerpt

My initial inspiration for this book was my nephew Terrance, or Terry as our family calls him. Terry was the first grandchild, which meant that all the hopes and dreams of earlier generations were entrusted to him. Yet, despite the best efforts of his mother, his stepfather, and the rest of his family, Terry’s life trajectory was different from what we’d hoped. Terry never graduated from high school, and by the time he was 25 he had seen two of his best friends killed by other young black men. Terry spent time in prison and fathered a number of children, while having difficulty finding and holding a job. To an unsympathetic reader, Terry might be the stereotypical black youth, without direction and doing harm to responsible black people trying to get ahead. For many who do not know him, Terry might seem like the young black men and women who appear briefly on the evening news: those young black people who many believe have chosen a “deviant” lifestyle immersed in a culture of poverty, sex, violence, and consumerism.

While researching and writing this book, I came to realize that Terry’s story, while special to me, in many ways epitomizes the experiences of many young black people who are living lives of alienation, marginality, and confusion. The idea of young black Americans as . . .

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