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208 pp 6x9 3 tables 53 halftones
"Kaplan gives a group of preteens from South Central L.A. the chance to document their lives in this moving work. After telling them to 'take pictures of anything you want to show me about your experiences,' Kaplan uses the results to assemble a well-researched narrative examining how the subjects 'experience and react to the social problems associated with South Central,' their reflections on living there, and how they deal with daily challenges, including gang violence and drug warfare.... [Kaplan] interweaves her subjects’ stories and pieces from their photo essays with her research, reflections, and observations, confronting issues of class, race, and identity. Even casual anecdotes point to larger problems—teachers who don’t care and schools that don’t work."
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.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
""We Live in the Shadow', is a very absorbing combination of photo and text that will draw readers into the lives of these youth and facilitate some very difficult dialogues on race and privilege. The unique use of photovoice methodology—which allows the participants to provide something more than an interview response—provides a more comprehensive understanding of these youths. The pictures themselves would comprise a masterful photo-essay if presented alone. But the combination of compelling photos and rich, nuanced interview data provides an extremely important and novel representation of the lives of these teens."
Cynthia Hudley, Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of You Did that on Purpose: Understanding and Changing Children’s Aggression
"Any work that aims to fight against simplistic and extraordinarily narrow depictions of African American and Latino youth in urban America is important. In ‘We Live in the Shadow’ Elaine Bell Kaplan aims to capture a more complex and complicated vision of such young people as skilled interpreters of their social realities. The novelty of the photovoice approach will appeal to a broad audience, and this book will be a stand-alone contribution to studies of racialized youth in urban poverty."
Alford A. Young, Jr., Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Sociology, and Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan
View a selection of images from the book (pdf).
Part I: Kids with Cameras
1. “What Do You Want to Tell Me about This Picture?”
2. The Photovoice Methodology
Part II: History and Transformation of South Central
3. “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central while Drinking Your Juice in the Hood”
4. “Send Them All to Iraq”
Part III: Kids’ School Stories
5. Teachers and Dirty Bathrooms
6. “She’s Gettin’ Her Learn On”
Part IV: Kids’ Neighborhood Stories
7. “I Was Just Scared”
8. Garbage, Alleyways, and Painted Doors
Part V: Kids’ Family Stories
9. Strain of a Heart
10. To Hope for Something
Appendix A: Participants by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Age
Appendix B: University of Southern California Neighborhood Academic Initiative Program Graduate Survey, 1997–2011
Appendix C: Assignments and Questionnaire
Elaine Bell Kaplan is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California, and author of Not Our Kind of Girl: Unraveling the Myths of Black Teenage Motherhood.
Race and Ethnicity
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