Tilton investigates paradoxes of youth
Today’s children are painted alternately as good kids in a world in which they need protection and future thugs against whom the world should be on watch.
This paradox is the ground on which Jennifer Tilton, an anthropologist and race and ethnic studies professor at the University of Redlands, has built her new book, “Dangerous or Endangered? Race and the Politics of Youth in Urban America.”
As research for the book, which was released through New York University Press in November 2010, Tilton spent three years studying the subject in Oakland. There, as in cities across America, the debate continues between activists over whether to shield children from the world using supervised after-school programs and curfews or to allow them the ability to learn from experience.
Tilton attended town hall meetings and spoke with politicians and activists, and worked with children directly in an effort to complete her picture of the issue. In the introduction to “Dangerous or Endangered,” she cites then-Mayor Jerry Brown, who addresses the growing problem of juvenile crime by stating “We’ve got to do something, but building facilities doesn’t work. So what do we do?”
“I wanted to understand the dynamics of local community change efforts, the dilemmas activists faced – the stereotypes and structural barriers they had to confront as they tried to create equal opportunities for all our children across racial and class lines,” Tilton said.
Tilton’s book begins in one economic zone, “the flatlands” of the Bay Area, and contrasts the child-rearing tendencies of the people there with those “atop the hill.” The differentiation of economic areas is one of three major divides investigated by Tilton, next to those of race and gender, in order to complete a picture of the plight of youth and their activists.
“Dangerous or Endangered” is now available through the NYU Press at www.nyupress.org.