David Turner III

Free Our Dreams: A Comparative Analysis of Political Meaning-Making in Black Male Youth Activists in Los Angeles

This dissertation focuses on Black male youth activism and political engagement. More specifically, this study focuses on the experience of Black male youth in community based programs that engage in racial justice-based activism and community organizing. Drawing upon 60 interviews from 30 Black male youth activists in two community based organizations in Los Angeles, this study elevates the political imaginaries that Black male youth adopt based on their political activism and how they were educated in community based organizations. Focusing on two groups – Black male youth who are politicized amongst other Black male youth, and Black male youth who are politicized amongst young people of color across race and genders, this study asserts that Black boys and young men engage in Black Transformative Agency. I define Black transformative agency as a dialectical process where Black youth make sense of, and work to transform, social institutions and their relationships to communities of color. How Black students theorize their agency, however, varies depending on how they were politicized and what forms of activism they engage in, which is deeply influenced by their understanding of gender, geography, class, and comparative race relations.