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How Valuable is the Life of a Black Male?

By on March 22, 2012

Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Melvin Williams, Sean Bell, and Malice Green – all black males who were unarmed and fatally shot at the hands of one or more police officers.

Nationally, the case of deceased teenager, Trayvon Martin sadly joins the list of unarmed black males who died amidst a swirl of questions whether the shooter  was targeting the victim, using excessive force, or boldly killed based on racial hatred.

Whatever you call it, black males in the United States continue to be killed and too often the response of law enforcement and/or the legal system is flimsy in bringing justice.

Homicide is an extreme outcome of the broader public health problem of interpersonal violence. Whether, it’s with a stranger, a family member, or law enforcement, there is a deadly and preventable health issue disproportionately affecting black males. Despite the promising decrease in certain homicide rates overall, primary prevention efforts against violence should be increased, particularly among young racial/ethnic minority males. Additionally, social justice activists, writers, and criminal justice professionals who believe better accountability, effective diversity training, and more enforcement of unjustified shootings.

Right now, Sanford, Florida is ground zero for the seemingly unjustified murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman. But for the country and the world it is also a perfect opportunity to draw attention to the most disturbing health issue facing black males in this country and many others.  In addition to all of the attention being paid to the Martin case, we must seize the moment to advocate for African American males at all levels.


Here are five (5) opportunities we all can pursue today to mitigate the issue of black male homicide.

  1. Become more visible within your own communities. Introduce yourself, your family, etc. to the local law enforcement. By reaching out to authorities there is an opportunity to gain a new perspective and hopefully mutual respect.
  2. If you suspect abuse of power and/or bias in the actions of law enforcement, document it (even if it does’nt involve you) take it straight to the leadership. Police officers are public servants and while it can be intimidating, we must document incidents and make them part of public record. Notify your council member, city manager, or police chief.
  3. Laws don’t protect people, people protect people. So whether you live in an urban area or rural, get connected on some level within your community. Know your neighbors. People who know one another are likely to look out for one another. We all need that.
  4. Engage your children about the potential perils of racial bias, racially bias law enforcement, and how to handle tense situations. Even with the strides of black people in the USA, racially-motivated violence is real and pervasive and often goes under reported.
  5. Advocate on behalf of your needs and the future needs of those in your community. Get politically active when it counts (hint: it always counts). Vote and become part of organizational and community level change while enlisting allies where possible.


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  4. Staff Contributor

    April 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Phil you make some great points. All of us have value and deserve respect. We need have laws and policies that reflect this as well. Racism is real, explicit and subtle just like sexism, homophobia,etc. We must do better in protecting each other and valuing each other. It’s the American way it should be.

  5. Phil

    April 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    How valuable is the life of a black male? Extremely valuable! That’s how much! As valuable as anyone else’s. I am a white male who loves his black brothers and sisters. I will protect and defend them at the drop of a hat. On a regular basis, I do what I can to educate people. I fight racism and prejudice as much as I can. Black people are every bit as worthy and deserving of respect as anyone else.

    It breaks my heart when I read stories of young black men and women shot down in the prime of their lives. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you need to.

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