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Photo of Brito, Cynthia

Cynthia Brito

PIF Fellow


Cynthia Brito is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the department of Urban Planning and Policy. Her research involves examining the strategies that community organizing offers Black and Latinx urban youth to survive and thrive in a moment of heightened racial unrest and how this creates an opportunity for making urban planning processes more inclusive. Also, how youth formulate spatial problems, organize themselves spatially both physically and virtually, establish organizations and implement their agenda. Her research builds on literature on the topics of community self-determination, youth organizing, urban governance and policy formation and implementation.

Cynthia currently serves as a research assistant for the Social Autopsy of COVID19 Racial Disparities Study. She is responsible for recruitment, development of research tools, interviews and translation. Additionally, Cynthia holds a second research assistantship for the Andrew Mellon Funded Sawyer Seminar Radical Alternatives, Radical Care podcast series being released Spring 2021.

Cynthia holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino studies with high distinction from UIC. She engages in the work of dismantling oppressive systems with various community organizations. Cynthia is an organizer with Freedom to Thrive, an abolitionist organization in Oak Park working on reimagining public safety. She is also the advisor and mentor for the Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League, (ROYAL), a community youth organization of Black and Latinx youth working on issues of racial justice. As a scholar-activist, she bridges her academic knowledge with movement space training to cultivate bilingual community workshops on topics ranging from Racial Justice, Identity, and Equity to Abolition.  She originates from a working-class, first-generation Mexican family that settled in Uptown, Chicago. Cynthia resides in Oak Park with her two teen daughters, Jocelyn and Marlene, two sons Remy and Santi, husband Mario, and cat Ohtli.