"We Live in the Shadow"
Inner-City Kids Tell Their Stories through Photographs
Publication Year: 2013
Looking at their photo of railroad tracks, a group of preteen students in South Central Los Angeles see either "a way out of the ghetto," or a "dirty, bad environment." Such are the impressions expressed in the poignant "We Live in the Shadow": Inner-City Kids Tell Their Stories through Photographs.
In Elaine Bell Kaplan's perceptive book, at-risk youth were given five-dollar cameras to tell stories about their world. Their photos and stories show us their response to negative inner-city teen images. We follow them into their schools, and we hear about their creative coping strategies. While these kids see South Central as dangerous, they also see themselves as confident enough to not let the inner city take them down. They refuse to be labeled as "ghetto thugs," as outsiders sometimes do. These outsiders include police, teachers, and other groups representing the institutional voices governing their daily lives.
The kids in "We Live in the Shadow": Inner-City Kids Tell Their Stories through Photographs have developed a multilayered view of society. This impressive book gives voice to their resilience.
Published by: Temple University Press
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I owe a debt of gratitude to the brilliant kids who trusted me with their photos and stories and whose inner-city experiences challenge popular assumptions and theoretical perspectives about inner-city kids’ lives. I give special thanks to the directors of the after-school centers who took time out of their busy schedules to talk with me ...
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On a bright spring day, ten middle schoolers from the Latino and African American communities in South Central Los Angeles,1 ranging in age from twelve to fourteen, sit around an oval-shaped desk in a dimly lit second-floor classroom on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) staring at a photograph of a railroad track (see Figure 1.1) featured on a PowerPoint slide. These middle schoolers are participating in the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) tutorial pro-...
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For this project, I draw on Jay MacLeod’s idea that the stories of kids from poor neighborhoods “are less often told and much less heard.” But we must listen, he argues, because they “provide a poignant account of what the social structure looks like from the bottom.”1 ...
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Los Angeles, like other large urban centers (New York City, for ex-ample), is a big place with lots of people. Unlike New York City, Los Angeles has long been noted for its sprawling major commercial, fi-nancial, and cultural institutions, which are geographically dispersed rather than being concentrated in a single downtown or central area.1 It also makes sense, then, for Los Angeles to be known as a city of car-dependent commu-nities. The term urban sprawl generally has negative connotations because ...
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Few people seem to care about the fears of kids like those of South Central. Instead, many Americans agree with the “ghetto thug” ste-reotype of them. One blogger, writing about South Central kids, com-plains, “They don’t have the tools to process what they are doing to their community. All they know is Murder, Death, and Kill. Send them all to Iraq.”1 I can recall quite vividly an acquaintance telling me, in reference to the election of President Barack Obama, “Now these thugs have no excuse; ...
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Abby, a pretty, petite fourteen-year-old African American wearing a white short-sleeve blouse and blue striped short pants flashes a big smile as she sits down at the classroom table. Abby was in the fourth grade when her mother received a call from her daughter’s teacher and an NAI staff member recommending her daughter for the NAI tutorial program. She was excited at first. The staff warned her that she would have to work hard, keep up with her regular schoolwork, attend tutoring classes ...
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Wynette, a tall, strikingly pretty African American with light brown eyes, dressed in a white sleeveless blouse and black cut-offs, flips through the twelve photographs she has taken of groups of friends. Wynette sighs before she begins to talk about the photos that she takes. As she puts it, “I took all of these pictures to tell you about the stuff I went through in school.” She begins by telling me how she winds up at a number of “terrible schools.” Her father, a single dad of two, moves ...
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We are often told that minority adolescents are a threat to an or-derly society. We focus on their poor academic performance, sexual behavior, drug habits, or gang involvement, yet we fail to examine the ways they feel threatened by society. We also fail to examine the ways in which kids may be active participants in their own lives. According to Margaret Beale Spencer, inner-city adolescents grow up in an environ-ment that is especially precarious and confusing. She argues that in this kind ...
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One Saturday, after attending NAI’s Saturday Academy, where they meet with tutors from 9:00 to 12:00, Manuel, a thirteen-year-old Latino, and Danielle and Spencer, both twelve-year-old African Americans, come bouncing up the stairs to the second-floor USC classroom. They have agreed to share their photos with two other NAI classmates. But first they consume potato chips and cookies and make fun of a popular TV program. Finally, they settle down, although they do look a little bored. I ...
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Adults often view middle schoolers as they do younger children, as pas-sive recipients of care, as the focus of adult socialization efforts, and as having little that is constructive to say about family dynamics or social structural factors. However, the views offered by the kids in this study prove otherwise. We hear stories about particular family experiences, and, as in Chapters 4 and 5, the kids recount witnessing events that leave a lasting im-pression on them. The photos also allow them to talk about how they go about ...
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This book is an in-depth study of fifty-four kids’ perceptions of inner-city life. These kids see society as failing to grasp the daily challenges they confront or to understand the extent to which they feel shunned, hidden, and forgotten. For Kyle and others, there is an ongo-ing ambivalence toward the college students’ responses to the photograph of the railroad track. This book also addresses the broader implications for Three questions come to mind as I think about the kids’ stories (the sec-...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth