Just Because the Hood Raised You, Doesn't Mean You Have to Raise the Hood: A Content Analysis of Urban Lit
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Sesssion presented on Friday, September 26, 2014: Background/Purpose: Evidence has shown that media, including print media, can influence adolescents attitudes, beliefs and behaviors culminating in risk behaviors that can lead to negative health consequences. African American (AA) fiction is a thriving market with over 500 authors and annual revenue in the billions. Urban lit is extremely popular among AA teens and adults with individuals citing their authenticity as the reason for its popularity. Urban lit is known for its gritty portrayal of urban life with themes of violence, promiscuity, drug activity and infidelity. However there has been no research to date examining this genre's themes. The purpose of this research is to explore and document the common themes of urban lit and their influence on risk behaviors among AA adolescents. Methods: Six popular urban-lit novels were examined for common themes using thematic content analysis. The novels were: Thugs & The Women Who Love Them; True to the Game; B-More Careful, Pull, Upgrade U, and The Coldest Winter Ever. Each participant was assigned an urban-lit novel to read. Key phrases and themes and their definitions were developed for each novel. For the final level of coding, participants gathered to review and discuss the key phrases and themes. All themes were reviewed. Themes common to all novels and were thought to broadly represent urban lit genre were kept. The final themes contributed to the conceptual understanding of urban lit and their influence on AA risks behaviors. Results: Eight themes emerged from this study: Thugs, Rubber Band Man, The Wratched, Hoodrat, Being Dogged, THOTS-That Ho Over There, and Lookin for Love. A Way Out is the overarching theme that represents the paradox of urban life; the struggle is the means to the end-escape for a better life. Many of the themes revolve around navigating intimate relationships and sexual behaviors and the characters engage in risky behaviors that may result in negative health consequences. The consequences of these negative behaviors are rarely mentioned in the stories. Implications for Practice/Research: Urban lit provides a window into AA adolescent and hip-hop culture. By understanding urban lit, clinicians can provide culturally competent risk behavior counseling to adolescents and their families. Using this knowledge researchers can develop culturally competent interventions to reduce risky health behaviors. Conclusion: For many AA readers urban-lit novels allow them to enjoy stories that reflect AA adolescent and popular culture. Through reading urban-lit novel, AA adolescents may be unknowingly learning and then engaging in risky behaviors. Therefore it is important for nurses to aware of the role that media, and urban lit in particular, plays in adolescent attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.