Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

David J. Roseborough

Abstract

Mastering the tasks of adolescence is difficult for all youth, and the journey of African American adolescents and other youth of color is a unique one. This study explored the following research questions: "What is the impact of participation in positive youth development programs that incorporate hip-hop and/or spoken word on youth participants?" and "What components of these programs are important?" Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with youth workers and current or former program participants. This study found that involvement in this type of programming was highly beneficial for youth, particularly youth of color. Participants saw benefits in a wide variety of categories, including their empowerment, community engagement, relationships with adults, academic and technical skills, non-cognitive skills, self-expression and youth voice. The art forms were culturally important for youth in understanding their own strengths and struggles in the context of their community of origin. This study challenges traditional notions of what it means to be a young person and particularly what it means to be a young person of color. There may be elements embedded within these programs and the concept of hip-hop and spoken word as developmental mediums that could help effectively address issues of risk and inequality. Continued research is needed to further understand and substantiate the value of youth development programs that incorporate the creation and performance of hip-hop and spoken word.

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