Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success

Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success

Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success

Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success

Synopsis

How do young black students respond, resist, and work to transform their school experience? How do young people adapt, survive, and then succeed in spite of their negative school experience? For an increasing number of marginalized black youth, the paths to social success can actually lie outside school walls.

Black Youth Matters presents a compelling, empirical picture of black youth who creatively respond to permanent school exclusion. Structural approaches to social stratification often set the terms of discussion around isolated narratives of individual "success stories." In this book, the authors intervene with a new point of view by focusing instead on collectives of broader black communities. They both engage with and move beyond structural models of stratification and education, thereby affirming the enduring importance of individual and collective aspiration--an impulse that has not been exhausted for black youth even in the face of systematic, longstanding, and overwhelming inequality. Based on long-term ethnographic research with young people permanently excluded from school, Black Youth Matters examines the resourcefulness of young black people in overcoming the process of school failure to forge more positive futures for themselves. This book should be of interest to sociologists, educators, anthropologists, policy-makers, as well as community activists.

Excerpt

Black Youth Matters: Transitions from School to Success is an important and timely volume. Collectively, Cecile Wright, Penny Standen, and Tina Patel present a compelling, empirical picture of black youth creatively responding to permanent school exclusion in the UK. As the authors demonstrate, these young people are “framed” by the school as failures in very explicit and demonstrable ways. This notion of failure is picked up and codified by work on stratification in the UK that traces the limited class mobility of black youth. While useful in many ways, this work has served to delimit notions of youth “success” and the different ways young people can—and do—transition to adulthood. Importantly, the authors highlight how black youth can draw on community resources as well as broader diasporic histories and collective identities in forging alternative notions of success.

The move is an important one. As the authors demonstrate, literature on social and economic mobility has tended to be framed by particular notions of “cultural capital.” Drawing on the work of Bourdieu and Passeron (1977), critical scholars have looked to map the ways youth are able or not able to mobilize and translate particular kinds of cultural and economic “capital” to move across . . .

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