Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence

Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence

Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence

Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence

Synopsis

With an outward gaze focused on a better future, Between Good and Ghetto reflects the social world of inner city African American girls and how they manage threats of personal violence.

Drawing on personal encounters, traditions of urban ethnography, Black feminist thought, gender studies, and feminist criminology, Nikki Jones gives readers a richly descriptive and compassionate account of how African American girls negotiate schools and neighborhoods governed by the so-called "code of the street"the form of street justice that governs violence in distressed urban areas. She reveals the multiple strategies they use to navigate interpersonal and gender-specific violence and how they reconcile the gendered dilemmas of their adolescence. Illuminating struggles for survival within this group, Between Good and Ghetto encourages others to move African American girls toward the center of discussions of "the crisis" in poor, urban neighborhoods.

Excerpt

Early on a weekday morning, a few minutes past the beginning of the school day, the line of students that snakes into the front door of Martin Luther King High School in South Philadelphia is no longer in sight. Known locally as “the prison on the hill,” the large, grey building sits atop a modest rise in one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods. Across the street from the school’s main entrance is a cement parking lot that sometimes doubles as a playground for the neighboring public elementary school. the school is bordered by a busy freeway on one side, and the Carver projects, a collection of low-rise public housing apartments, on the other side. Some units that once faced the school’s back entrance have been torn down. Slowly, they are being replaced by newly designed structures that resemble small-scale town homes.

Police officers patrol the housing project’s borders often, and occasionally officers respond to calls from inside the high school as well. On most days, however, uniformed guards screen students and visitors and monitor school safety. Security checks, endured by hundreds of Martin Luther King High’s students each morning, resemble the methodical screenings required of all visitors to the city’s courts, Criminal Justice Center, and correctional facilities. the high school’s security clearance procedures serve as a not-so-subtle reminder that for many adolescent, inner-city boys and girls, the beginning of the school day is not an escape from the threats of violence that accompany life in the neighborhoods that surround the school.

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