Poor Black Youth Not Politically Inclined According To New Study

June 8, 2011  |  

A recent University of Chicago study on 100 young African-Americans from the local community concluded that there is a lack of political activity in this population. Growing up with a black president has failed to inspire increased participation in politics, particularly if respondents are low-income. Other factors such as religious participation affect how black youth choose to engage. Auriel Jamison, a student who participated in the study related:

“Those low-income youth who are involved in politics do so in a traditional way opposed to youth from upper-income households who participate in non-traditional ways… We found that youth from low-income homes felt alienated from the government and Black youth overall felt like second-class citizens.”

The study found that traditional ways for poorer blacks to participate include actually voting (where eligible), while more affluent blacks get involved through social media, engaging in protests via web sites. Interestingly, African-American youth who are religiously active were also found to be more likely to engage in our political process.

This University of Chicago study was conducted actively with the high school students, who participated with the researchers in its development, in order to teach them empowering skills. The inspiration behind these efforts is the hope that by helping black youth understand how to do research, they can use new information to better engage politically. The insights gleaned through the study might spur our teens to counter the trend of alienation with positive action. Let’s hope they create new paths to integration and become black political leaders of the future.



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