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Youth Say Race Still Matters—So What Are They Doing About It?

Youth Say Race Still Matters—So What Are They Doing About It?

Juell Stewart, Colorlines | June 28, 2011

Earlier this month, our publisher released a report, “Don’t Call Them Post-Racial,” which surveyed attitudes about race in key systems in U.S. society among young adults 18-25. Dom Apollon’s research team conducted focus groups with dozens of young people in the Los Angeles area, and learned that their thoughts on race are far more nuanced than most polling and commentary has suggested. Theirs is the most diverse generation in U.S. history, but that doesn’t make them post-race. Rather, the young people in the focus groups made clear that they believed race still matters today.

The young people struggled for language to define racism and they differed across racial groups in how they saw race impacting society. But they identified race as a “significant problem” in a few key areas, with all racial groups agreeing that race remained a problem for both criminal justice and employment. Young people of color identified education as a particular trouble spot as well.

They also differed in what they thought should be done about these problems—while white Millennials, as this generation has been dubbed, largely identified racism as driven by individuals and demanding individual solutions, young people of color were more likely to identify racism as a collective problem that demands political action to resolve. As Apollon wrote, “All of these ideas are crucial to understand because they also shape how this generation will choose to act upon racism and racial injustice.”  (Read more)