When one think of an epidemic they think of an illness that compromises the health of a vast majority of people. One can safely say that an epidemic is an outbreak of some sort of disease affecting many persons at one time. This was surely true in 1989 when the FBI released their statistical findings that the homicide rate for black males between the ages of 15 – 24 was a whopping 85.6 per 100,000. Homicide is defined as a killing of one human being by another. This is like a high speed groundhog day of Cain and Abel in a never ending loop – an epidemic.
If we hold true to the definition of epidemic as a disease affecting many, and we define violence as the exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse, then there must be a medical solution to end this outbreak. Keep in mind, this study was done way back in 1989, twenty-four years ago, and there seem to have been no change in those statistics as of today.
The black population in 2011 totaled a little over thirty-nine million; (39,031,00) to be exact according the U.S. Census Bureau. The following is the numbers that needs focus:
Black Alone (Male and Female)
Age range Population Percent
15 – 19 3,233K 6.2
20 – 24 3,165K 6.5
25 – 29 2,934K 6.5
24.3% of the Black Alone population are under the age of 21, leaving 75.7% 21 years of age and older.
Let’s define disease as a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms. Like all diseases, this one -violence, must be treated medically just as any other disease has been before and will continue to be treated.
The numbers will be disregarded at this point because it is not the numbers that we should be concerned about. There are a few conditions plaguing the communities of African-Americans needs to be addressed. The diseases that need attention are alcohol, drugs, racism, segregation, and isolation.
The use and abuse of fermented grains of corn, rice, and even potatoes has taken its deadly toll on many societies; stemming from cirrhosis of the liver to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The African-American communities are flooded with liquor stores and corner bodegas that sell beer and wine coolers, some places sell these products 24 hours around the clock.
Drugs are manufactured in labs, by extracting fluids from the root, stem, leaf, fruit or seed of a plant or tree, which are then used as medicine in the treatment of an illness as a cure. It’s the illegal and pleasure seeking use and abuse of drugs that is taking its toll on human beings in such forms as drug addiction, over-doses, and drug dependant babies.
Racism is just as prevalent today in the American as it was prior to the year 1776. Racism eats it the very soul of a human being. It diminishes and cripples the soul of those who are targeted leaving hurt and shame on both sides of the spectrum.
The largest form of being cut off from and separated by race is when one is taken from their home by force and brought to another place unfamiliar to him. The key term here is ‘separated by race’, and this world is full of segregationist who enforces this practice on a daily basis.
When one places or keeps anything or anyone by itself or to separate one thing or person from others is isolation. Social isolation is the poison that divides one set of people from another which in turn retards societary development.
The above are just brief descriptions of simple terms and they really carry no weight individually, separate and apart from one another. This is not the case when we are speaking of the African-American community as we try to rationalize the reason and causes for the widespread violence of yesterday and today. There is nothing new about what is mentioned above, these things have existed and have taken place for tens’ of years. This is exactly what our youth face day-in and day-out, from the time they wake up until they go to bed at night.
The African-American have survived these obstacles for centuries –literally, -so what’s the problem? The problem is that this is a spiral loop that has been spinning for decades upon decades. The violence in the African-American communities continues on with each decade becoming more deadly than the last -as the world turns.
The question should be, are drugs, alcohol, racism, segregation, and social isolation the root causes for the violence in the African-American communities, or are they end result of something far bigger?
Poverty and hopelessness when joined hand-in-hand can leave a people in despair just like an autoimmune disease attacking itself in an effort to protect itself. Poor quality of life has been passed on from generation to generation, to generation like a family heirloom. Yes, inferior education, lack of financial resources, derogated medical facilities and treatment, dysfunctional family structures all passed from one generation to another for centuries. That was not always so, in fact, this was more of an exception than a rule -so what happened?
The black male has been surgically removed from the African-American family just as if it was a tonsil of an appendix. The funny thing about that, which by no means is a laughing matter, a tonsil and an appendix are things a doctor tells one that they do not need and can do without. African-American women have been raising their children, especially their sons, without a father figure. African-American (black) women have been told since they days of slavery that they can do without the African-American (black) man. The truth to the matter is that the tonsil and appendix are similar to a smoke detector; they will alert you when something is wrong with the body. The tonsil reports any abnormality concerning the respritory system from the mouth and prior to the stomach, and the appendix reports on abnormalities of the body from the stomach to the colon, mainly the intestines.
The head of any household is the man and once you remove the head you have a dead body. Young men not having a positive role model, any role model for that point, to teach them how to conduct themselves and handle disputes are now forced to find those definitions through television and movies in which disputes are settled violently where guns are the weapon of choice.
With no positive role models at home, on television, in the movies, and on the streets they are more or less forced to ‘rear’ themselves. They do not understand their condition and their predicament and they hate who they are and what they have become. They see normal healthy family life and values when they look at non-black family structures, but they cannot identify with the race behind the face. They look into the mirror and hate the one they see; their face and any one that look like them. Because they cannot identify with the race behind the face of a loving and kind family, educated, and community involved. They know that they are the opposite in pigmentation and their lack of education allows for the rest of them being in total opposition. They see the ‘Cosbys’ -(Huxtables) as a television program which they cannot identify with -the ‘Evans’ are more like them. Uneducated, unemployed, and a plain menace to their community is what they have been reduced to. It is a known scientific fact that cognitive behavior is well defined in the teenage years.
Just like in the movie ‘Juice’ the person with the gun has the power. The gun is the single most important thing to a young man growing up in a poverty-stricken African-American community with little hope. The gun gives them power and most of all – R E S P E C T!
Respect, now isn’t that what we all seek and want?
I will end here and let this become the focus point of a series of writings concerning the issues circumventing the violence in the African-American communities.
Thank you, and may God bless
Chipman, Kimberly, RN
Violence in the African-American Community as a Public Health Issue Annotated Bibliography Web. 4 Feb. 2013.
Merriam-Webster Online. Web. 9 Feb. 2013.
United States Census Bureau Web. 9 Feb.2013.
The Black Population: 2010 Web.9 Feb. 2013.
This page is a constant work in progress … I will be updating soon