Supporting Black Boys’ Mental Health (w Chandra White-Cummings)

Suicide rates among black boys ages 13-19 rose 60% from 2001 to 2017. And for children ages 5-12, black males are committing suicide at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group.

Significant numbers of black boys are ending their lives before puberty.

This is not OK.

“There is a lot of discussion going on about suicide, mental health, emotional wellness and stigma, much of it centered around what’s going on in the African-American and other communities of color,” says today’s guest, Chandra White-Cummings is a lawyer who’s served as a policy fellow for Moms of Black Boys United. “However, often, it is the sad unfortunate case that African-American women — moms — don’t get invited into these conversations.”

That’s not OK either.

Together, Chandra, Janet and Jen attempt to untangle the intertwining threads that affect black boys’ mental health (and their parents’ mental health) and figure out how parents, teachers and communities can effectively support black boys.

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Chandra discuss:
  • Factors affecting mental health in the African-American community
  • Implicit, unconscious bias
  • How racism causes parents to “over-pathologize” black boys’ behavior
  • The loss of protective factors — tight-knit communities, nearby family — that once helped support mental health
  • The need for connection
  • How society often misinterprets anxiety and depression in boys — which may manifest as rage and irritability — as “danger” rather than symptomatic of a mental health concern
  • Racial disparities in schools
  • How to begin dismantling implicit bias
  • How trauma impacts mental health —  & how the legacy of slavery impacts mental health today
  • Why it’s time to listen to (rather than study) the black community
  • Engaging in conversations about racism
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: — Chandra’s website. Includes links to many of her articles

Addressing Racism & Racial Disparities with Hilary Beard — ON BOYS episode

The 1619 ProjectNYT multi-media examination of the impact of slavery on the United States

Teen Football Star Bryce Gowdy Faced Struggles Before His Suicide — news story mentioned by Chandra at 32:14

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, by Shaka Senghor — book mentioned by Chandra at 48:08

Chokehold: Policing Black Men, by Paul Butler — book mentioned by Chandra at 48:03

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, by Mitchell Jackson — memoir about growing up black in Portland, OR

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