chapter  33
14 Pages

Critical Race Theory Meets Participatory Action Research: Creating a Community of Black Youth as Public Intellectuals

ByA. A. AKOM

Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Cosmo, and other news and entertainment conglomerates have contributed to the hypervaluation of Whiteness and in doing so have attempted to create a collective memory of Black people as social problems rather than social partners. Movies, TV shows, and print ads romanticize Whiteness, pathologize Blackness and Raza, while rendering Asian and indigenous populations as invisible. In the post-Civil Rights era this has held constant, even during the 1990s and into the 21stcentury, when a remarkable thing happened: Aspects of youth culture in general, and aspects of White and Asian youth culture in particular, underwent a Black reincarnation via the hip hop aesthetic. Yet through it all, the visible and invisible representations of Whiteness remain quite remarkable; perhaps best symbolized by the “White House” and who occupies it, Disney world’s light skinned/mainly blue-eyed “heroes” and “sheroes” (Disney gives creatures blue eyes even when depicting the animal kingdom), Wall Street, or advanced placement classes (Akom, 2001). Collectively these images, representation, and lived experiences have created a world where it “pays” to look (and act) like Snow White or Cinderellaeven if your name is Pocahontas.