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Black Youth Project Survey – Original Research

The first phase of this research project is focused on the mounting of a new national survey of young people ages 15-25. The new questionnaire includes both previously used questions from other surveys to allow for comparison across sample populations and new questions never asked of adolescents and young adults before.

This combination of new and previously used measures will explore the ideas and attitudes of young people in the realms of sex, intimacy and health, political participation, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, rap music and videos, religion as well as current public policy impacting, in particular, young African Americans. The sample will consist of a combination of a standard nationally representative sample and a supplemental sample obtained from areas that are 15 percent or higher density of Hispanic and non-Hispanic African American population. These areas cover over 89 percent of the Hispanic population and about 89 percent of the non-Hispanic African American population. The national survey of nearly 1600 respondents, including an over-sample of African American respondents and a small over-sample of Latinos, will allow researchers to compare the attitudes of African American youth with young people of other racial and ethnic groups.

Section A
The Attitudes and Behavior of Young Black Americans: Research Summary

Authors: Cathy J. Cohen (Principle Investigator), Jamila Celestine-Michener (Graduate Research Associate), Crystal Holmes (Graduate Research Associate), Julie Lee Merseth (Graduate Research Associate), Laurence Ralph (Graduate Research Associate).

Notice: You have agreed with the following terms for use of the Black Youth Project Survey data. Links to download the datasets are below.

You will not distribute the Black Youth Project Survey data, it is solely for your use. Please refer others to this website where they can register and download the data.

The Black Youth Project cannot provide support for use of the data.

Any time you use the data it should be formally cited. Please use the following citation when referencing the data: Cathy J. Cohen. 2005. “Black Youth Culture Survey.” Chicago, IL: Black Youth Project. Data set accessed [insert date] at

In addition, if your work is published, submit a link to the published work to so that we can link to your publication.

Usage Notes

We suggest using the variable RRaceEth for analyzes exploring race and ethnicity. There are two weighting variables at the end of the dataset.


We suggest using the variable RRaceEth for analyzes exploring race and ethnicity. There are two weighting variables at the end of the dataset.

The full Black Youth Project Survey

The Methodology Report

Black Youth Project Dataset

Memos & Reports

This section features memos written by graduate students that explore and provide context for the major themes of the Black Youth Project survey.

African American Youth Political Participation
Written by Andrew Dilts

Abstract: This essay briefly explores what existing research in political science has to say about the political participation of African American youth. The first section traces mainstream work in political science on participation. The early work on participation, based on the large-n survey tradition of the Columbia and Michigan election studies, focuses almost exclusively on voting, taking account race or age only as controls. The second section deals with the emergence of the currently dominant model of participation, the “resource” or “civic participation” model, which takes into account different forms of political activity besides voting and turns attention to factors unique to African Americans. Explaining race-based differences in levels and types of political participation turns out to be the driving focus on current research. Following this, I explore electoral and nonelectoral forms of participation in detail, paying special attention to youth of color, drawing from the most recent studies of their participation.

Download the memo "African American Youth Political Participation"

Download the bibliography for "African American Youth Political Participation"

Black Youth, Health, and Society
Written by Scott Roberts

Abstract: This memo focuses primarily on previous research into the societal causes and impacts of racial disparities in health. We examine some of the structural and cultural causes of racial health disparities and their effects on African Americans, especially youth. The impact of economic inequality, discrimination, and unequal access to health care are among the topics explored. In addition, we take an in-depth look at four specific public health problems with special importance to black youth: HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, and violence. Each of these subtopics not only explores each public health problem but also provides some concrete examples of the mechanisms detailed in the explanations of racial health disparities. Finally, we examine existent research on race and public opinion on health issues.

Download the memo "Black Youth, Health, and Society"

Download the bibliography for "Black Youth, Health, and Society"

Gender and Politics
Written by Marissa Guerrero

Abstract: What is gender and how do black youth perceive and experience it? This paper reviews recent empirical research on gender roles in black communities, paying special attention to young people. I begin this paper with a discussion of what the word “ gender” means. I then discuss existing measures of gender role attitudes and their applicability to black youth. From there, I review major empirical studies that help us to understand how gender plays out in everyday life for black youth, focusing on the following areas: gender roles, perceived gender discrimination and stratification, the influence of race and gender on political opinion and behavior, single parenting, and body image. This review of the literature concludes that there is little work focusing solely on black gender roles, and that which does usually confines its sample to the adult population. There is important work to be done on the gender role attitudes of black youth.

Download the memo "Gender and Politics"

Download the bibliography for "Gender and Politics"

Hip Hop and Politics
Written by Tanji Gilliam

Abstract: A review of the major theoretical arguments and important empirical findings relating to the influence of hip hop on the development of youth politics, particularly among U.S. African American communities. Of primary focus to this investigation are the intersections of hip hop and sex/sexuality, hip hop and racial attitudes and hip hop and substance abuse/violence.

Download the memo "Hip Hop and Politics"

Download the bibliography for "Hip Hop and Politics"

Political Efficacy
Written by Deva Woodly

Abstract: African American youth, at first glance, seem to have a very strange profile in terms of the relationship between self-esteem and personal efficacy. However, advances in the social science literature have illuminated a coherent story about the way the self-concept of African Americans adolescents might develop politically. The problem is that the literature has failed to emphasized the big-picture narrative that it’s dispersed subfields make available. This essay excavates that narrative, shedding light on the seeming puzzle of the personal and political efficacy of African American youth.

Download the memo "Political Efficacy"

Written by Paula Nicole Booke

Abstract: There has been some disagreement among scholars as to whether the role religion has played in the development of African American consciousness, sexuality, and politics has been positive or negative. However, the importance of religion and its institutions in the perceptions of community members has been virtually unquestioned. Scholarship has shown that religion has a meaningful impact on the political and psychological consciousness of many African Americans, including young adults, with important consequences for their decision-making processes. This memo highlights some important periods in the development of Black religion, its effects on politics, and its impact on the decision-making of African American young adults with regard to sexuality and sexual practice.

Download the memo "Religion"

Download the bibliography for "Religion"

Social Psychology of Race Among African Americans
Written by Mosi Adesina Ifatunji

Abstract: This is a review of empirical literature concerning the social psychology of race among black Americans. Central topics include: perceptions of racial discrimination, racial identity, and racial attitudes.

Download the memo "Social Psychology of Race Among African Americans"

Download the bibliography for "Social Psychology of Race Among African Americans"

Youth and Civic Engagement
Written by Jamila Celestine-Michener

Abstract: This memo is a review of the civic engagement literature particularly with respect to the place (or lack thereof) that African-American and other youth of color occupy in current research agendas. The memo elaborates and critiques several important aspects of the civic engagement literature including the difficulties of defining civic engagement, differences in research approaches, and methodological challenges in the field. Also discussed are key factors influencing youth civic engagement such as education, geographic context, race, political institutions/public policy, and family. Throughout the memo, there are critical assessments of some of the basic assumptions and oversights embedded in much of the civic engagement literature as well as suggestions for fruitful directions of future research.

Download the memo "Youth and Civic Engagement"

Download the bibliography for "Youth and Civic Engagement"