YM: Grassroots Literacy Pedagogy Alongside Participatory Media Practices to Engage and Connect City Youth for Social Change

Using an asset-based grassroots pedagogy, youth and adults are working together to create media that exposes social justice issues in local and international contexts (Blikstein, 2008; Ginwright & James, 2002; Goldman, Booker, & McDermott, 2007; Pollock, 2004). This panel addresses youth produced original media and media as a resource for civic practice and social justice in three distinct settings: Summer of Service, Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, and the Youth Media Forum for Social Justice. Though there are programmatic distinctions between these groups, they all have common, overarching goals about social justice youth development, critical literacy, empowerment, education, and activism. The panelists will explore the common practices that unlock student’s learning and political development in each of these settings; the commonalities and distinctions in content (i.e., what are topics of concern and analysis vis-a-vis youth-produced media and spoken word poems?); and finally, how do the young people use their work to inform larger organizing efforts among their peers, their larger community, and abroad. The panel will be organized around a community case study approach (Harper, 1992), examining youth-produced artifacts developed alongside careful descriptions of each setting. Collected artifacts include poems/lyrics, videos, and narratives as well as analytical work generated in the process of production. The panel will address commonalities and distinctions borne out of shared pedagogies and unique cultural and programmatic positions (Becker, 1998). Youth engaged in each of these programs embody, inform, and embrace broader movements and social struggles. As they grow up grappling with social stratification and seeking their participation rights, it is vital that youth-serving organizations join forces, connect voices, and foster blocks without borders. Today's youth demand a pedagogy that is culturally relevant and allows them to think critically about the world and create their own counter-narratives that disrupt subjugation Watson, 2011). This is not simply about best pedagogical practices for urban students, but about promoting and protecting a public paradigm of participatory democracy.

Panelists will discuss and present these three distinct projects and the methods employed by each. We will also discuss distinctions across the projects as they vary in context, timescale, and project activity. Our discussant will organize dialogue that addresses a summary of findings from each project, a comparison across projects, and a discussion of the community-school nature of the projects.

Angela Booker
Vajra Watson
Kindra Montgomery-Block
Bel Reyes
Angela Booker
Discussant: Meghan McDermott