African American Identity

775 Words4 Pages
Life and observational experiences should be convincing enough for audiences to see that inner city African American youths (The terms “youth” and “teen” are used interchangeably) construct identities for themselves, based on a means for coping and survival as marginalized citizens within a hegemonic patriarchal society. Inner city Black youths do not necessarily have the luxury of constructing appropriated ‘youth identities' since their emergent youth styles are created based on surviving poverty and all of the pathological social ills that come with it; examples include violence, drugs, illegal entrepreneurship, police harassment, etc. There is a connection between the worlds depicted in street nonfiction novels The Corner and Other People’s…show more content…
They should deal more with navigating highly stressful and often times traumatic daily experiences. Young people in the ‘hood hear, see, and experience more so-called adult oriented events at earlier ages (i.e. shootings, assaults, drug deals, murders, etc.) than their suburban or upper class counterparts. The processing of such traumatic experiences is a large catalyst for the categorization of inner cities as war zones. It is commonly understood that continuous mental and emotional stress ages one’s worldview in unexpected, yet deterministic ways. This determinism from cultural trauma is what shapes and forms one’s ideologies that serve as foundations for identities that one would call anything but ‘youthful,’ unless audiences want to expand the definition of ‘youth’ to include trauma based on poverty, marginalization, and disenfranchisement. Black youth in American inner cities are looking over their shoulders even while playing outside (if they are even allowed outside). For inner city Black teens in the ‘hood, especially boys, life is serious every moment of the…show more content…
James shows how ‘play’ can actually be a serious means of survival and advancement for unemployed black urban youths. Basketball is an example that James cites to illustrate the fact that while many youths are talented and committed to recreational sports, the discipline and dedication that is required to excel in athletics should be understood as elements of constructing an ideology and identity for self as a marginalized person seeking to move ‘up ‘n out’ into mainstream society. James confirms that as black urban youth engage in pleasurable activities they devise and employ creative strategies in which to earn money via their leisure activities. In negotiating such intricate social and economic processes, marginalized teens in the ‘hood are constructing ideologies of agency, location, and ethics. These ideological understandings serve as a foundation for constructing identities that have less to do with being a youth, and more to do with being extant. Leisure activities for teens in inner city America is not about ‘being cool’ or ‘stylin.’ It is a strategic positioning for daily survival and for possible exit out of the

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