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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

Awad Ibrahim and Shirley R. Steinberg

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
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16 Targeted by the Crosshairs: Student Voices on Colonialism, Racism,and Whiteness as Barriers to Educational Equity

← 183 | 184 →CHAPTER 16


There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all. (Foucault, 1985, p. 293)

It was Columbus Day, 1992, in a San Francisco elementary school attended disproportionately by children from poor and low-income families. A teacher told her third-grade students that she was going to teach them about Columbus. Ayana listened to the teacher’s story and was troubled. Her mother had been sharing with her the journals of the colonizer, Christopher Columbus, edited by Friar Bartolomé de las Casas. The journals described some of the abuses of Native people carried out by Columbus and his men.

Although de las Casas was only nine years old in 1493 when Columbus returned from his first colonizing voyage, de las Casas senior, Bartolomé’s father, accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, and Bartolomé traveled to Hispaniola in 1502 to see his family holdings. There he witnessed atrocities, amounting to genocide, wrought by the conquistadores against the Native people, under a system of patronage called encomienda. Nevertheless, initially, Bartolomé participated in this colonial system, by which the Spanish monarchy granted Spaniards responsibility over a number of Native people. Eventually, however, he “re-cognized” (Freire, 2001) the nature of the system and his own everyday practice, and decided that he could no longer be a part of the abuse. He spent the rest of...

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