Youth and Elders in Solidarity: An Afrocentric Dialogic Approach to Research

Abstract

The Youth and Elders in Solidarity research methodology was developed to address the dearth of research on lived experiences of Black youth in smaller Canadian cities. Youth and Elders in Solidarity approach facilitates exploration of tough topics such as marginalization, alienation, and disenfranchisement. This Afrocentric research tool builds on various qualitative methods (focus group, healing circles, town hall meetings, African ceremony, and community dialogue) to access and honor repressed voices. Concerns about inequitable outcomes for Black students in Toronto, Canada, led to agitations for Afrocentric schools which opponents deemed regressive and contradictory to Canadian multiculturalism and integration. However, no research exists on how integrated and inclusive Waterloo region schools are, in practice, from the perspective of Black youth. Investigating this topic demanded culturally relevant methodology that regards participants as knowledge creators not objects of research. The Youth and Elders in Solidarity approach was therefore developed to access Black youth stories and meaning-making processes while ensuing their cultural safety. Framed by Afrocentric and critical race theories, Youth and Elders in Solidarity positions African elders as co-researchers and co-facilitators of the youth dialogue which deviates from rom hegemonic binaries by honouring the cultural capital Black youth already possess. The efficacy of the Youth and Elders in Solidarity research was demonstrated by the community capacity building and intergenerational healing it promoted. The youth’s decision to maintain ongoing dialogue on issues that impact their lives reflects the empowerment, ownership, and agency fostered by Youth and Elders in Solidarity in helping the youth move from victimhood to change catalysts.

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