Black youth are politically involved, shows study

Washington, Oct 20 (ANI): A new study by University of Chicago has shown that conception about black youth that they are politically detached and negatively influenced by rap music and videos are completely false.

Black youth say they are politically involved, critical of many messages in rap and skeptical of the idea that the country has entered a post-racial era.

They also are socially conservative on issuess such same-sex marriage, said Prof. Cathy Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science and lead researcher of the study.

Using survey questions and focus group discussions, the study provides new insights into a youth culture often criticized and frequently misunderstood.

Black youth are among the most marginalized groups in society, Cohen said. On average they have far fewer resources than other young people and face higher dropout rates, especially among young black men in urban areas, as well as greater levels of incarceration and dangerous levels of violence. Many of their cultural choices, such as rap music, have garnered criticism from those inside and outside of black communities.

The situation has led to the emergence of popular "partial truths" about black youth behavior, based in part on the images featured in some rap music videos, Cohen said, such as sagging pants, denigrating language toward women and blatant sexuality.

Many people also feel that black youths are uninterested in politics. Those impressions about black youth distract from their real problems, brought on by structural racism and a lack of opportunities resulting from conservative policies that focus on shrinking government assistance to those in need, Cohen said.

"In all fairness, black youth are also very honest in highlighting their own faulty decision-making, underscoring their own agency in shaping their life options."

"Ironically, missing from much of the debate over the lives of black youth and the political course of the country has been the sustained and detailed presentation of the voices, opinions and attitudes of black youth," said Cohen, who provides those perspectives in a new book, Democracy Remixed, Black Youth and the Future of American Politics, published Sept. 12 by Oxford University Press.

"This book fills a void by asking young people directly what they think."

The research for this work, widely known as the Black Youth Project, included a national representative survey of young people ages 15-25 that included an oversample of black youth. (ANI)

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