Distributing Condoms and Hope: The Racialized Politics of Youth Sexual Health

Part of the University of California Press series Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century

Through the lens of reproductive justice, Distributing Condoms and Hope imagines a different approach to serving marginalized youth–one that neither uses their lives as the basis for disciplinary public policies nor romanticizes their struggles.


Praise for Distributing Condoms and Hope

“Chris Barcelos enriches our understanding of youth sexual health promotion efforts by tracing how various discourses about youth sexuality and reproduction inform professional stakeholders’ perspectives on who they serve, what the ‘problem is,’ and how to ‘fix it.’

This book is a necessary read for anyone interested in improving sexual health promotion for and with young people.”—Lorena Garcia, author of Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself: Latina Girls and Sexual Identity

“Barcelos does an excellent job intersecting thick stories about community organizations and locating them within theoretical traditions to provide critical insights into how agents of the state conceptualize the bodies of Black and brown youth and their own role in reproducing ‘teen pregnancy’ as an urgent social problem.”—Ranita Ray, author of The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City

“This book, based on years of field work in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in a deindustrialized city in New England, brilliantly shows how teen parents are shamed and painted as the cause of urban poverty. Fortunately, we have Barcelos and the reproductive justice activists in this monograph to hold up the voices of the courageous and fabulous young people who are raising the next generation.”—Laura Briggs, author of Taking Children, A History of American Terror

“While many scholars have conducted research on teen pregnancy, Barcelos’s analysis is framed intentionally around reproductive justice. Barcelos promotes a critical approach to Latinx teens’ sexualities by analyzing the ways advocacy programs limit their reproductive choices and promote long acting reversible contraceptives, rather than supporting those interested in raising their children. Racism, Barcelos asserts, is the elephant in the room that health advocates and practitioners rarely name as a structural concern in teen pregnancy discourse even while repeatedly evoking ethnicity in culturally reductive narratives of Latinx families.”—Katie L. Acosta, Associate Professor of Sociology and author of Amigas y Amantes: Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family

Table of Contents

Introduction: This Is What Happens When You Get Pregnant as a Teenager 
1. Race, Pregnancy, and Power in Millerston
2. The Messy Narratives of Disidentifying with Teen Motherhood
3. “It’s their culture”: Youth Sexual Health Promotion as a Gendered Racial Project
4. Sex, Science, and What Teens Do When It’s Dark Outside
5. Educated Hope: Imagining Reproductive Justice in Millerston

Appendix A. Organizations and Projects in Millerston
Appendix B. Methodological Notes