“Racism is a Pandemic Too”: Tracing Youth Racial Justice Activism in Los Angeles in the Age of COVID-19

Awarded Scholars:
Hajar Yazdiha, University of Southern California
Project Date:
Mar 2022
Award Amount:
$30,000

Many studies document how social disasters generate a shock that unsettles political and cultural systems, generating opportunities for groups to mobilize for systemic change. Yet research also shows that social disasters amplify existing social inequalities, as in the pandemic’s disproportionate threat to Black and Brown youth, who found their life trajectories interrupted. Sociologist Hajar Yazdiha will examine how these competing perspectives might work in tandem by combining interviews with student activists and participant observation of two Los Angeles student activist organizations. She will investigate the following questions: 1) How do youth activists perceive the pandemic as a threat or opportunity for systemic change and how do these perceptions vary across activists’ social locations? 2) How do perceptions shape activists’ strategic actions? Understanding how the ongoing pandemic impacts student activism is essential as collective action is a critical mode of civic incorporation linked to educational and economic advancement.

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