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Between Good and Ghetto
African American Girls and Inner-City Violence
228 pages, 5.5 x 8.5
Series: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
Sociology, Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Law, Women's Studies, African American Studies
Winner of the 2009 New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology's Division on People of Color and Crime
With an outward gaze focused on a better future, Between Good and Ghetto
reflects the social world of inner city African American girls and how they manage threats of personal violence.
Drawing on personal encounters, traditions of urban ethnography, Black feminist thought, gender studies, and feminist criminology, Nikki Jones gives readers a richly descriptive and compassionate account of how African American girls negotiate schools and neighborhoods governed by the so-called "code of the street"ùthe form of street justice that governs violence in distressed urban areas. She reveals the multiple strategies they use to navigate interpersonal and gender-specific violence and how they reconcile the gendered dilemmas of their adolescence. Illuminating struggles for survival within this group, Between Good and Ghetto encourages others to move African American girls toward the center of discussions of "the crisis" in poor, urban neighborhoods.
"This book adds invaluable information and analysis to the growing debate on the violence perpetrated by girls, and the ethnographic method is exactly what is needed to further the question of whether today's girls—particularly those most marginalized due to class, race, and neighborhood—are more violent."
—Joanne Belknap, author of The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime & Justice
"Between Good and Ghetto is an expertly written and fascinating ethnography of the gendered racial dimensions of violence in the inner city. Jones does an excellent job in communicating the strength and sensitivity [of the girls she interviewed] to her readers while, simultaneously, producing a work of tremendous insight and immense sociological imagination."
"A very compelling account of daily life as experienced by poor, urban, African American adolescent girls. Recommended."
"Nikki Jones' sharp, detailed investigation of the way fighting, on the street and in school, shapes the lives of young African American women combines shrewd analytical insight and clear evocative language to give readers an understanding of what it costs a 'good girl' to stay good, and what happens to those who 'go for bad.'"
—Howard S. Becker, author of Outsiders and Writing for Social Scientists
"The young women in Between Good and Ghetto compel the reader to consider their lives and the violence they experience in relation to the shifting and dynamic concept of protection. What is perhaps the most significant and disturbing revelation in the book is that there are few contexts, behavioral strategies, institutional spaces, or ways of identifying that fully protect young inner-city African American women's physical well-being, emotional health, and empowered self-perception."
"Intellectually and emotionally evocative. Jones’s [book] is hard to put down due to her adept use of imagery and obvious passion for her work."
Author / Editor Bio
Nikki Jones is an assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Table Of Contents
1 The Social World of Inner City Girls
2 "It's Not Where You Live, It's How You Live"
3 "Ain't I A Violent Person?"
4 "Love Make You Fight Crazy"
Conclusion: The Other Side of the Crisis