Research News

Baldridge's 'Reclaiming Community' receives a 2019 AESA Critics’ Choice Book Award

October 02, 2019

The new book, “Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work,” from UW-Madison’s Bianca Baldridge is a 2019 American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Critics’ Choice Book Award winner. 

Baldridge is a sociologist of education and an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies

Bianca Baldridge with Reclaiming Community
Bianca Baldridge with her recently released book,
"Reclaiming Community."
Each year, a committee of AESA members selects a number of titles it regards as outstanding books that may be of interest to those in educational studies. These books are designated as AESA Critics’ Choice Award winners and are displayed prominently at the annual meeting. 

This award serves to recognize and increase awareness of recent scholarship deemed to be outstanding in its field and of potential interest to members of the Association.

“Reclaiming Community” tells the story of a community-based program, Educational Excellence (EE), shining a light on the invaluable role youth workers play in such spaces, and the precarious context in which these programs now exist. 

Approximately 2.4 million black youth participate in after-school programs, which offer a range of support, including academic tutoring, college preparation, political identity development, cultural and emotional support, and even a space to develop strategies and tools for organizing and activism.  

Drawing on rich ethnographic data, Baldridge contends that the story of EE is representative of a much larger and understudied phenomenon. With the spread of neoliberal ideology and its reliance on racism, these spaces of community support are losing the autonomy that has allowed them to embolden the minds of the youth they serve.

Baldridge captures the stories of loss and resistance within this context of immense external political pressure, arguing for the damage caused when the same structural violence that Black youth experience in school starts to occur in the places they go to escape it.