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Paradoxes of Youth Investigated in New Book by Race and Ethnic Studies Professor

Jennifer Tilton book

Paradoxes of Youth Investigated in New Book by Race and Ethnic Studies Professor

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, Tilton spent three years attending town hall meetings and speaking with politicians, community activists and youth in Oakland, Calif. There, as in cities across America, activists debate about what youth need and who is responsible for children. In the introduction to “Dangerous or Endangered,” she cites then-Mayor Jerry Brown, who addresses the 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 traces the politics of youth across Oakland's social geography, from one economic zone, “the flatlands,” to the top of the Oakland hills. “Dangerous or Endangered” shows how the stories told about young people shape a community’s vision of government and the kinds of state action it tries to secure.

“Dangerous or Endangered” is now available through the New York University Press at www.nyupress.org.

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