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Leading Cause of Death for Black Men

By on May 23, 2014

Imagine, you wake up to a police detective knocking at your door. You panic.

Your son is not home and you have not heard from him since last night. The hair on the back of your neck stands and you suddenly pray that your intuition is on a smoke break today. The detective tells you your son was killed in a random drive by shooting in a neighborhood a mile away from your home. You don’t know what to do and even more so, how to react? Unfortunately this is a frequent scenario for the parents of our black men and boys.

What I am talking about is loss of black lives to gun violence.

FACT: Homicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds and the primary cause of death among African Americans of that age group.
According to the World Health OrganizationHealth is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. When a person is victim of gun violence, friends and family of the victim of gun violence, or lives in a community with high rates of gun violence causes not only physical dangers to health but also severe emotional/mental distress and the breakdown of social cohesion in many urban communities. For example, I currently live in Philadelphia, a city that has great historical and contemporary significance, a true symbol of modern America.

Me-300x336Unfortunately the city has its darker side of the coin: disproportionately high rates of poverty and crime. For example, according to guncrisis.org in the first week of May there have been 21 shooting victims in Philadelphia. Sadly, it’s not yet summer. I predict we will see an increase in rates of gun violence in not just Philadelphia but other urban centers around the country.

One of the first ways to stop the violence in my opinion is to begin to view violence as a human rights violation. Why? Safety is a human need to survive. Violence directly jeopardizes safety and well-being. Another important focus needs to be rebuilding social cohesion in our communities.

If we don’t build solidarity, we all fall. The next article will be exploring how many men like me became victims to the bullets. Stay tuned!


Brandon Brooks is a graduate student at Drexel University’s School of Public Health, concentrating in Health Management and Policy. He is also a research assistant at the Drexel University School of Public Health’s Department of Community Health and Prevention.