Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work
Approximately 2.4 million Black youth participate in after-school programs, which offer a range of support, including academic tutoring, college preparation, political identity development, cultural and emotional support, and even a space to develop strategies and tools for organizing and activism. In Reclaiming Community, Bianca Baldridge tells the story of one such community-based program, Educational Excellence (EE), shining a light on both the invaluable role youth workers play in these spaces, and the precarious context in which such programs now exist.
Drawing on rich ethnographic data, Baldridge persuasively argues that the story of EE is representative of a much larger and understudied phenomenon. With the spread of neoliberal ideology and its reliance on racism--marked by individualism, market competition, and privatization--these bastions of community support are losing the autonomy that has allowed them to embolden the minds of the youth they serve. Baldridge captures the stories of loss and resistance within this context of immense external political pressure, arguing powerfully for the damage caused when the same structural violence that Black youth experience in school, starts to occur in the places they go to escape it.
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About the AuthorBianca J. Baldridge is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"The movement across America to adopt a Wall Street-like focus on 'return on investments' (ROI) to measure the impact of after-school programs is a big mistake. Bianca Baldridge offers a brilliant and timely alternative to metric-driven services; her research provides a refreshing and illuminating vision of how those who support youth of color can create more holistic alternatives to youth programming."--Shawn Ginwright, Professor of Education and African American Studies "San Francisco State University "
"Through her detailed accounts, [Baldridge] demonstrates the negative effects of a program overtaken by racist and paternalistic leadership and makes a strong case for the importance of culturally respectful leadership in driving the success of any program. Clear connections are drawn from this particular after-school program to the larger public-school educational environment, in which a business mindset has forced accountability at the loss of children's sociocultural and emotional learning.Baldridge's careful and detailed work provides a much-needed viewpoint into a critical source of learning and empowerment for children of color. Recommended."--K. N. Reed "CHOICE "