Aerika Brittian Loyd

Personal Spotlight:

We asked scholars to describe some of the following questions: What drew you to do work on Latino youth and families? Who was an important mentor to you in this work? What tips do you have for someone starting out?

This may be unique to Southern California or my experience growing up in San Diego, but Black and Latinx youth were always together in my middle school and high school, and some of my cousins are biracial (African American and Mexican American or Puerto Rican). Although I live in Chicago now, which is a very different cultural context, those early experiences likely shaped the trajectory of my research program and approach to studying the experiences of Black and Latinx youth and young adults in urban communities. As a graduate research assistant, I helped Sue Sy at California State University, Fullerton interview Latina emerging adults as they transitioned to college. Through my work with Dr. Sy, I developed an interest in studying protective factors that exist for communities that experience marginalization but exhibit hope and resilience. I was fortunate to have supportive mentors as a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, where I was involved in Proyecto La Familia and Bridges to High School. My role with La Familia allowed me to collaborate with Adriana Umaña-Taylor, Mark Roosa, and George Knight to develop a series of papers that examined the development of ethnic identity, how cultural factors serve to reduce poor health outcomes and promote resilience, and how cultural factors relate to prosocial behaviors among Mexican origin youth. Through my work with the Bridges to High School study, I worked with Nancy Gonzales and Larry Dumka, and fellow postdoc, Russ Toomey to examine how cultural processes and coping influence Mexican origin youths’ mental health in the context of discrimination. Because mentorship has been integral to my success at various stages of my career, my advice to researchers starting out is to develop a strong and diverse network of mentors, including some who teach you about you research and scholarship, and some who speak positively to your identity – they may or may not be at your university.

Research Spotlight:

We invited scholars to describe a recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it. 

As a developmental scientist who studies health and development among youth of color in urban youth-serving organizations and an educator who trains youth development professionals to work in urban communities, I have been challenged and inspired by two recent studies. Priest and colleagues (2018) examined stereotypes held by White adults working with communities of color, including Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Asian, and Arab youth. The findings of this study were not particularly surprising (racial/ethnic socialization is important for White youth), but it does provide some scientific evidence to help us better train youth workers and advocate for social policy. For example, Anderson, Sanchez, Meyer, and Sales (2018) investigated the potential for a social justice intervention to improve cultural competencies among adults who work with diverse youth. I hope this line of research continues to help us better prepare the adults who will work with youth in Black and Brown communities. Adults should be resources for youth, not barriers.

Upcoming research presentations we should know about?

The September 2018 issue of American Psychologist features theoretical and empirical pieces by many members of the Asian, Black, and Latino caucuses. I think every developmental scientist should consider those readings. I am also really excited about Dr. Julio Cammarota’s participatory action research with Latinx youth. As I tell my students, Social Justice Youth Development theories will change your life!



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