Wednesday, October 26, 2016


I attended the a lecture by Professor Leslie Grinner about Beyonce's album "Lemonade" at the Fortes Library on Wednesday, October 12th. It enjoyed the lecture and discussion. According to Professor Grinner, "Lemonade" is considered controversial because the imagery and lyrics of the album delve into major issues in our society such as feminism and racism. According to Professor Grinner, the album has been criticized by black feminist Bell Hooks, but has been defended by other black feminists. Bell Hooks criticized the commercialism of the album and the representations of women as beautiful rather than intellectual. However, many people have been inspired by Beyonce's courage in making the album. Beyonce is an artist who is successful commercially, so she uses a commercial venue to express her views. However, without the commercial success, she wouldn't be able to reach so many people with her message. According to Professor Grinner, in "Lemonade", Beyonce has chosen to explore deeper issues than are generally present in her albums, although she has touched on these issues in the past through Destiny's Child. By creating this controversial album, Beyonce has brought a dialogue about these issues to the forefront of popular culture. The album includes quotes and references from poets, musicians, entertainers, and activists which may help to introduce many people to new artists with activist views.

I hadn't seen any of Lemonade before the lecture, so, afterwards, I watched some of the videos on You Tube. I found videos like "Hold Up" to be an explosion of feminism and black activism. The album was very captivating and much more artistic than what I usually see in pop music. What was important to me is that it felt to me like Beyonce was really expressing her voice and her experience. While she uses pop music and culture as her medium, she challenges aspects of popular culture in videos like "Pretty Hurts" which questions the very beauty standards that she is expected to uphold as a pop music icon. I hope that the video gets other people, especially young girls, to think critically about their experience and to feel empowered in expressing their voice and being true to their own perspectives and experiences.

It made me think in some ways about Youth in Action and how this program encourages young people to be activists and think critically about their experience in society. The participants in the program learn how to express their voices and speak about their experiences to each other and to people in the community. They learn how to honor the truth of each others' stories as opposed to holding only to the expectations that society may have for them or assumptions that may be made about them. In this way, they challenge and critically examine the society that they are a part of as Beyonce challenges and criticizes popular culture that she is a part of through her album.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Context Mapping

Chapter 2 of Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators by Nakkula and Toshalis discusses identity and context mapping. Context Mapping is the idea that we may have different identities in different contexts. I have experienced this a lot at different times in my life. Right now, I experience some different contexts in my different classes and places of employment. I also notice how much I use different skills and different parts of my brain. I feel like a little bit of a different person as an English major hanging out with other English majors in English classes or at the Writing Center than I do when I work at the Providence Children's Museum or take Education or Social Work classes. I feel like a very different type of employee when I work at the Providence Children's Museum than I do when I am working in my grant-writing internship. I dress differently, act differently, and use a completely different set of skills.

This was also true for Julian. He felt like one person when he was in his Math and Science classes and hanging out with his peers from those classes. He felt like another person when he interacted with his friend, Antwon, or played sports. He found that these two identities were in conflict and it created a crisis for him. The school counselor, Mitch, had also struggled with contrasting identities as a nerd, football player, and a Filipino, but he had learned how to juggle them more effectively. He was able to encourage and support Julian in exploring his own multiple identities. He asked Julian to write down the different contexts in which he found each day including the different people he interacted with, activities he engaged in, and places that he went. Mitch asked Julian to notice how he felt in each of these places. This helped Juilan to better explore his own identity.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Youth Development Ideology

This week, we took the Youth Development Ideology Inventory to determine to which area of Youth Development we feel most connected. The three areas, according to the Youth Development Ideology Inventory are Risk, Resiliency and Prevention; Positive Youth Development; and Critical Youth Development. My scores show that I relate most to the Critical Youth Development Ideology with a score of 9, then Positive Youth Development with a score of 12, and least to Risk, Resiliency and Prevention with a score of 15. My scores are not extreme which shows that I agree, in some ways, with all three areas.

According to Youth Development Ideology Inventory, Critical Youth Development asks questions such as "How can adults and youth work together to make the world a better place?" I think part of this question that is very important is "How can adults and youth work together?" This, to me, implies co-creating or co-authoring a story for the youth and for the world. This is the philosophy behind organizations like Youth In Action that encourage youth to take leadership roles in their community and take on social issues to create positive change in the world. This is very important to me because I believe that youth are often involved in making changes in the world. It also assumes that adults don't have all the answers and that society hasn't solved all of its problems, yet. We can't assume that we have all the answers to give youth because that would mean we had already solved all of the problems in the world. The belief for Critical Youth Development listed on the Youth Development Ideology is:

"Teens are legitimate actors and collaborators who have important ideas and ways of contributing to the world."

To me, this means that youth are not simply passive members of society who are shaped by their environments and the adults around them. They are also active participants who help to shape their environments and the people around them as they are shaped by them. The Critical Youth Development orientation includes a "focus on how youth engage with and impact their communities and cultures." This kind of Youth Development can include community activism and other types of programs, such as Youth in Action, which encourage youth to become more involved in their communities and take on social issues.