Research News

Op-ed by UW-Madison’s Baldridge published by Black Youth Project

September 10, 2018

UW-Madison’s Bianca Baldridge is the author of an op-ed that explains how afterschool youth work can be both beneficial and harmful, as it perpetuates deficit-based narratives that frame black and Latinx youth as culturally deprived, academically unmotivated, and in need of saving.

Writes Baldridge, whose op-ed was published by the Black Youth Project: “HBO’s ‘Insecure’ is one of the best series on television. Through both humor and drama, the show tackles the love and relationships of Black women, while also commenting on gentrification, cultural appropriation, white liberal racism, and education, among other things. As a former youth worker in afterschool community-based programs and a sociologist who studies the racial dynamics of these spaces, Issa’s former job at We Got Ya’ll, an afterschool program in the show, resonates with me the most. For Black youth, community-based afterschool spaces have been vibrant sites of liberation and healing in a racist society, but they are often rife with deficit-based thinking and paternalism that undermines their effectiveness.”

Bianca Baldridge
Baldridge
Baldridge is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is a sociologist of education and youth worker, and the author of the forthcoming book, “Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work.”

Baldridge concludes by writing: “ ‘Insecure’s’ portrayal of We Got Y’all captures how whiteness gets embedded within non-profit programs engaging youth of color through paternalistic approaches which treat Black and Latinx youth as objects and not as human beings. It also positions Black and Latinx youth as in need of these spaces because of something they inherently lack and not because of structural oppression shaped by racism, capitalism, school privatization and other broader social and political problems. These ideas can be perpetuated by folks of all racial backgrounds within youth work. I understand the value of these spaces and support the contributions they make to the educational experiences of young people. However, the racist and class-based narratives about youth of color engaged in afterschool programs must shift from a deficit-based lens to a more affirming one by focusing on what young people bring to afterschool programs and other educational spaces, and the strengths and skills they already possess.”

But make sure and learn much more about this important topic by reading Baldridge’s entire op-ed for free on this Black Youth Project web page.