Marginalized Youth

             Before you go and criticize the younger generation, just remember who raised them.

                                                                                                —Unknown

I immediately looked up this quote that I remembered stumbling upon a long time ago while reading the first part of Punished because it reminded me of how much adults can be so quick to judge the youth nowadays. I feel that adults seem to forget that they were once young as well and considered by their adults the youth of their generation. I also do not think they would appreciate being treated so harshly if they experienced the same treatments youth today, particularly African Americans and Latinos, face based on racial profiles. Victor M. Rios highlighted on the daily struggles African American and Latino youths face in Oakland, California based on their appearance, behaviors, and whom they associate themselves with. He describes them as the marginalized youth.

In the first section of the book Punished, we are introduced to some of the racial disparities in policing youth, especially in the African American and Latino teenage population. An example of this from the book is the Jena Six case where the White victims in the case were only mildly punished with a three-day suspension at school after hanging nooses on the “White Tree” when a couple Black students decided to sit under it. On the other hand, when a fight broke out later on at the same school between Black students and a White student, the Black students faced much more harsh punishments by getting arrested, charged, and convicted as adults even though most of them were only sixteen years old at the time when the event happened.

Another example of racial disparities in policing comes from this article when President Obama addresses the issue. Most of his statements about the topic mirrors what we are currently reading and learning in Punished. It simply shows how prevalent racial disparities toward the African American and Latino communities are in relation to the application of criminal justice in other parts of the country. In the article, he also mentions how social media plays a role on the difficulties of issuing and addressing policing complaints properly within the two minority groups because of how society can take in certain information and use them to create these unfair treatments and judgments towards the youth in general before they have a chance to defend themselves and prove the public wrong.

Overall, I think that this whole issue of racial disparities in policing can be avoided or at least handled better if society as a whole stop creating their own assumptions and definitions of certain minority groups based solely on what they have heard or seen in the media. Like Rios states in the book, “If young people believe that the social ecology in which they grow up is punitive and debilitating, then they will experience the world as such” (p.9). It also relates back to what we learned while reading Schoolgirls and the concept of the “looking glass”. Because society assumes and sees the marginalized youth—in this case the African American and Latino groups—as “at risk” and delinquents, eventually these youths will start seeing themselves as how they are described by others and start acting out behaviors that match those definitions instead of simply seeing themselves for who they really are.

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