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LEARNING RACE AND ETHNICITY: Youth and Digital Media

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As the chapters collected here demonstrate, our guarded enthusiasm for digital media technologies as beneficial in the lives of minority youths is not a case of positive technological determinism. But rather is tempered by our recognition of, but not resignation to, the undeniable consequences of a persistent inequality in the deep structures of our nation’s IT economy.

At the same time, it is difficult not to be optimistic about the myriad ways minority youths today successfully appropriate digital media tools to speak truth to power, to enliven the promises of a digital democracy, and to retrofit what I have been calling “the digital public sphere” to suit their own generational concerns and agendas.

About e-Book

This volume appears at an auspicious moment in the development and pervasive spread of digital media technologies into all realms of American society and culture. Our usage of the term auspicious in this context is quite deliberate and apropos for this investigation of digital media at the interface of race and ethnicity because it denotes a promising, fortunate, and propitious outcome.

Given the increasing affordability of computers and other digital technologies, and especially their ubiquity in the lives of American youth across racial and ethnic divides, this is precisely the right timing for this volume and its contribution to the MacArthur Foundation’s visionary Digital Media and Learning (DMAL) initiative launched in 2006. In fact, it will become apparent that, upon reflection, issues surrounding the rates of digital media diffusion among youths of color are at once very complex and rather simple, as the chapters comprising this volume readily attest.

Thus, it becomes important to note that our optimism about the nexus of race and ethnicity, youth cultures, and digital media technologies at this historical juncture is not a contemporary retread of earlier utopian notions that tended to posit information technologies (IT) as a panacea for what ails contemporary humankind.

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