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Mental health in the Black community yet another battleground for equality

30th September 2013   ·   0 Comments

By David Dennis Jr.
Contributing Columnist

personal loans for bad credit in sa Two months ago, Rolling Stone put Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover. The act was nothing more than a disgusting money grab. Beyond that, the story served to paint the bomber as some sort of victim who was “radicalized” by terrorists and let down by his family structure. The story spends thousands of words analyzing the mental state of one of the country’s worst living terrorists. While it’s easy to get outraged, it’s incredibly difficult to find Tsarnaev’s treatment surprising.

Whenever a white domestic terrorist commits an act of violence, his actions seem to merit some sort of explanation. What caused these seemingly well-meaning white males to do something so out-of-character as to commit such atrocities? The public must know! There must be some extenuating circumstance to lead to a white male San Antonio 78210 cash advance becoming a criminal. Usually, the psychoanalyses come with some sort of diagnosis: insanity diagnosis for the Colorado shooter, Adam Lanza diagnosed with Asperger’s before the shooting, and so on.

But where are these explanations and diagnoses for African Americans lining precincts across the country…most notably here in New Orleans? Our biggest challenge in 2013 and beyond is the search for mental health equality in this country.

A little more than a week ago, the Navy Yard Shooter, went on a rampage in Washington D.C. that killed 12 people and injured four. Alexis, an African American, was under the impression he was being controlled by low frequency electromagnetic waves. He was clearly suffering from mental health issues, but we won’t see his face on the cover of Rolling Stone. Still, Alexis’ crime cheap on line loans can be a rallying cry for more mental health analysis in the Black community. Because when we truly understand the roots of mental issues we can start helping African-Americans at the root of the issues leading to crime and poor education.

New Orleans is a city full of the undiagnosed. Classrooms are loaded with students who are dealing with post-traumatic stress resulting from surviving Hurricane Katrina. So many of their parents abandoned them. So many lives are in flux and have been for nearly a decade. Students are merely written off as problem children when there are cogent issues that need to be addressed first.

If I’m supposed to gather sympathy for Tsarnaev as someone who was let down by his parents and “radicalized” by terrorists, I should feel sympathy for a 15-year-old best personal loan wa kid whose parents left him alone in the city during the storm so he could turn to a gang for support. That kid will only be seen as a thug or a hoodlum, not someone struggling with abandonment issues and stress I can’t even imagine.

Still, it’s easy to use decades of stereotyping and profiling to see a Black criminal and assume there’s a character issue when undiagnosed mental issues may be at the forefront. While New Orleans features so many new initiatives to help educate students based on programs set up in other cities, we need more initiatives based on the specific mental makeup of our students.

Here are a few facts from the National Alliance Of Mental Illness to illuminate just how dire our circumstances are. As it stands, African Americans are less likely to be given accurate mental diagnoses than Caucasians — partially due to the disadvantages in ability to access mental health care. Suicide rates have increased 233 percent in the last 15 years among 10-14 year old African Americans.

Now take those statistics and multiply them by 100 in New Orleans. While we’re on the front lines against the prison economic system, crime and scholastic achievement discrepancies, the root of this fight is mental health. We need equal treatment, access to counseling and diagnoses in early development. It’s finally time to make mental health the preeminent equality fight in the Black community. Because Rolling Stone won’t put any of us on its cover.

This article originally published in the September 30, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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