Heading to Minneapolis: The SRA Black Lives Matter Syllabus, Part 1

We will be heading to Minneapolis for the SRA 2018 Biennial Meeting. Minneapolis is about a 15-minute drive from Falcon Heights, where, last week, a policeman killed Philando Castile (July 16, 1983 – July 6, 2016), the day after a Baton Rouge policeman killed Alton Sterling (June 14, 1979 – July 5, 2016). Both were 30-something year-old Black men. Grief and protest followed, across the U.S.

Black youth have been leading the movement for black lives, have been calling attention to state-sanctioned black death, and have called us in.

In Baltimore this year, we worked closely with local community organizers to listen to how we, as individuals and as adolescent researchers, could align our work with theirs in fighting racist policies and practices and in supporting Black youth. One of the key messages we heard was that as researchers, it is crucial that we start by stepping back.

We therefore invite the SRA community to take this time to step back and ask ourselves some hard questions before we step up to continue this work together at our next conference. Towards that end, we offer you this brief guide, a syllabus, of sorts, following the leadership of Marcia Chattelain’s crowdsourced Ferguson Syllabus, and the Charleston Syllabus from the African American Historical Society.

We ask you to use these readings for conversations with your peers, your collaborators, your friends-in-the-field. Use these readings for your own human development, and for your own professional development, and so we as a society of scholars can attend to the voices of Black youth, academics, and activists as we commit again and again to the work of racial justice.

Scholars of color -- please access your available support systems and safe spaces so that you are getting care even while you are engaging in this emotionally draining work. We care about you, we care about your work, and we care about your health and wellbeing.

White scholars -- please make sure you are talking to other White people to process your thoughts and feelings, so you are not burdening the people of color around you. At the same time, read what Black scholars and other scholars of color are writing, and listen to what they are saying.

We’ve got a lot to do. This is Part 1.

Session 1: Understanding the Movement for Black Lives


  • Who are the Black youth and young adults leading the Black Lives Matter movement, nationally and locally?
  • What are the goals of the movement?
  • In what ways do the goals of my research align or compete with the goals of this movement?


Session 2: Examining the Impact of Anti-Black Racism on Health and Development


  • Who are the scholars addressing anti-Black racism in public health and human development?
  • In what way is racism -- not just race -- a factor in health and developmental outcomes?
  • How are the impacts of racism relevant to the developmental questions that I study?


Session 3: Doing Research


  • Who are the theorists and methodologists discussing racism and anti-racism in how we do research?
  • What kinds of research practices have the potential to challenge racism in projects related to adolescent development?
  • What are the ways in which my own research practices challenge or sustain systems of racism and White normativity?


Session 4: Teaching


  • Who are the students on my campus addressing and calling out anti-Black racism?
  • What changes do Black student activists want to see in their colleges and universities?
  • What am I doing to value Black lives and Black thought in my teaching and in my interactions with all students?


Session 5: Talking Amongst Ourselves


  • What conversations are already happening among SRA members that address anti-Black racism and condemn violence against Black youth, adults, and communities?
  • What further questions do I want to raise with my peers and colleagues?
  • What changes am I ready to make at every step of my research process, in order to challenge the systems that uphold White privilege and perpetuate Black death?


Is that enough reading to do, for now? There is, obviously, so much more. We invite you to submit your suggestions for future editions of the SRA Black Lives Matter syllabus through this form. Thank you for being in this process with us. We can and will do more, and do better.

… to be continued.

Share this post:

Comments on "Heading to Minneapolis: The SRA Black Lives Matter Syllabus, Part 1"

Comments 0-0 of 0

Please login to comment