New Website Gives Black Youth A Voice

Style News Wire | 11/10/2009, 5:39 p.m.
The Black Youth Project (BYP) announced today the launch of its new website — — to provide a place ...

The current generation of black youth finds itself in the center of many of the country’s political and social debates and the subject of numerous films, videos and media analysis. But more than any other group of Americans, black youth face the challenge of inclusion in the post–civil rights period as well as the challenge of web access and digital spaces to call their own. The Black Youth Project, a national research project that examines the attitudes, resources, and culture of African American youth, decided to create an online hub for black youth where scholars, educators, community activists, youth allies, and youth themselves could have access to an array of resources.

“This site gives us a voice,” says Jonathan Lykes,, age 19, one of the featured bloggers on the BYP website. “A lot of black youth have something to say now. We understand now and we want our voices heard now.”

“It is a place where the perspectives of young black people will be heard loud and clear,” stated Leigh Richie, web coordinator for the Black Youth Project.

“While this generation of young African Americans are much talked-about by pundits and the media, they are rarely talked with and asked to engage in real dialog,” said Dr. Cathy Cohen, the principal investigator for the Black Youth Project and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. “Finally, there’s a place on the web where young black people can speak for themselves instead of having other people speak about them.”

The BYP site features a number of innovative and useful resources, including:

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Rap Lyrics Database — the first public searchable database of rap music lyrics. A cyber storehouse that allows scholars, youth, cultural workers, and teachers to search through lyrics of Billboard Music’s top rap songs from 1990 to February 2009 in order to create content to think critically about rap and hip hop just as one does about jazz and classical music.

“You can find a whole number of videos as well as articles and blogs

that talk about hiphop in a way that respects young black people

and the culture.” — Alexandra Moffett-Bateau, researcher

Black Youth Blogging — daily blogs that represent the voices and attitudes of young African Americans who are in their late teens and twenties. Content consists of conversations about popular culture, current news about politics, testimonials, and narratives about growing up being black, gay, straight, man, woman, transgender, working class, middle class, and differently abled in the US.

“The Black Youth Project is really cool because it is a space where people

from various communities can come together and get information. You can search

for anything you are looking for.” — Summer McDonald, blogger

Data, Survey and Findings — the Black Youth Project Survey includes the most extensive dataset on black youth available to the public. Researchers can now download the original data set from the Black Youth Project, focused on surveying young people ages 15-25. Additional data sets will also be made available to the public.