BUSSW Professors Receive Grant for Innovative Youth-Led Research on Racial Capitalism from BU Center for Antiracist Research

student protesters
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Professors Dawn Belkin Martinez and Linda Sprague Martinez take a novel approach to their research on effective mental health interventions for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color) youth and young adults. 

The project, titled “YPAR (youth-led participatory research), Activism, and Organizing as a Mental Health Intervention for BIPOC Youth: Building the Case for Practice Informed Evidence” posits the theory that anti-oppressive mental health practices, such as the Liberation Health framework, help individuals identify the multiplicity of factors affecting their lives and take action to address internal and external oppressive barriers they interface with.

As Belkin Martinez cites in her 2014 book, Social Justice in Clinical Practice: A Liberation Health Framework for Social Work, “This model of mental health practice provides practical tools to situate problems in their full matrix of personal, structural, institutional, and ideological determinants. It seeks to liberate community members from the confusing belief that the current conditions are inevitable and beyond our power to change.” Adding, “These methods can empower youth to become involved in the movement for racial justice.”

The BUSSW research team will partner with The City School, a BIPOC-led youth organization that develops and strengthens youth to become effective leaders for social justice. Employing YPAR to analyze racial capitalism, they will address the key research question: can organizing, political analysis, and activism be effective mental health interventions for BIPOC youth and young adults?

The professors “anticipate our research will demonstrate antiracist education and consciousness-raising, along with political activism, will facilitate the development of personal and collective empowerment, positive coping strategies and mediate the stressors associated with racism, as well as help to transform the sociopolitical landscape in which we operate.”

The grant was awarded by the BU Center for Antiracist Research as part of its effort to develop problem-centered and solution-oriented research and policy teams (R&P Teams). Proposed each year and led by Center-affiliated BU faculty and supported by grants, R&P Teams are comprised of a team of researchers, and practitioners of policy, journalism, art, and advocacy who will exhaustively study a critical racial inequity or injustice, ascertain the policies leading to the inequity, develop policy correctives, narrate the problems and solutions through journalism and art, and organize a campaign for change to work with policymakers to test the policy correctives.

Learn More About the Research of Profs. Belkin Martinez and Sprague Martinez