But let’s be real: most of those stories are focused on a group of often white, largely middle-class (or wealthier) 20- and 30-somethings who graduated from four-year colleges and work in white-collar settings.
A trio of sociologists are looking to broaden the conversation about this oft-talked about demographic. Stefanie DeLuca and Kathryn Edin, professors at Johns Hopkins University, along with Susan Clampet-Lundquist, a professor at St. Joseph’s University, have written a book that draws from 10 years of field research on 150 black Baltimore residents born in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The book, called “Coming of Age in the Other America,” is focused largely on the wave of interviews researchers conducted with participants in 2010, when they were between ages 15 and 24.
All of the participants spent at least some of their childhood in Baltimore public housing, but many managed to move to neighborhoods with less-concentrated poverty, thanks to various policy initiatives. While many still struggled to find jobs that paid well and gain access to higher education, they all largely made it farther education-wise than their parents, thanks in part to their new surroundings, the researchers found.
Roughly a year after the unrest in Baltimore surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody and later died, the authors hope the book and its subjects provide a counternarrative to the way young people of color living in cities are often portrayed in the media.