Incoming Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology and the Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) Faculty Affiliate, Dr. Lauren C. Mims, partnered with the National Crittenton and the National Collaborative of Young Women’s Initiatives (National YWI) to produce an incredible report on their In Solidarity Conversations. The report, At the Forefront: The Experiences of Girls, Young Women and Gender-Expansive Youth of Color as they Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic and Social Uprising, looks to elevate the voices of girls, young women, and gender-expansive young people of color and to fill a crucial gap in our social understanding of the lived experiences of young people during these tumultuous times.
From June to November 2020, National Crittenton and the National YWI organized 15 virtual, regional, and Tribal In Solidarity Conversations with over 400 girls, young women, and gender-expansive young people of color between the ages of 13-26 from across the country. The In Solidarity Conversations offered a safe space to young people to engage in conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, as well as the uprisings ignited by ongoing police brutality and systemic racism in the United States and the impact they had on their lives, their families, and their communities.
Using a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) approach, five major themes were found:
Theme 1: “...I feel like there’s been like this entire pressure put on me”: Girls, young women and gender expansive youth of color experienced economic instability within their ecosystems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Theme 2: “Coming home to study was very, very difficult”: Girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color reported changes in relationships and responsibilities.
Theme 3: “Where am I going to go from here?”: The abrupt switch to virtual learning truncated the educational journeys, disrupted traditional rites of passage, and created financial strains and deep uncertainty about the academic futures of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color.
Theme 4: “The more connected I get, the further targeted I am”: While addressing the sudden changes in their lives as a result of COVID-19, girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color were further impacted emotionally by experiences of ongoing systemic racism.
Theme 5: “Youth organizing are a huge source of power”: Girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color responded to local and national injustices by engaging in protest and community action.
For more information about the In Solidarity Conversations, visit the In Solidarity Conversations Project page.