Black Boys Describe What it Means to Grow Up in America

There has been a lot of conversation, more so lately, about racism across the United States. Several high profile incidents have not only sparked new conversations about race, policing and institutional racism in the United States, but have also led to protesting and even rioting.

After a racially motivated hate crime in a church in South Carolina, the constituency gathered their voices to express concern over the Confederate Flag remaining on the state capitol building. The flag, seen as a symbol of separation and racism for Black Americans, was removed from the building after legislative action in July 2015.  This was after a Black woman, Bree Newsome, independently removed the flag and was subsequently arrested. The removal of the flag has been met with a great deal of controversy, however, as some (mostly) White Americans have relished in the flag as a cornerstone to Southern history.  However, the impact of its visibility cannot be understated, especially to Black descendants of the slaves who were traded and sold in the antebellum south.

This incident as well as many others has prompted further discourse among and across racial groups, which desperately needs to continue.  There must be consistent advocacy work to address and dismantle institutional racism whether it exists in our policing systems, housing systems, or economic and educational sectors. There is still a lot of work to be done.

Dismantling racial discrimination is particularly important to foster a greater sense of unity among all the nation’s people but also because it has a particularly strong and insidious impact on Black Americans.  These consequences are all encompassing and cover a wide range of issues for Black Americans such as:

  • Distorted self perception and internalized racism
  • Overrepresentation in the criminal system
  • Heightened vigilance and anxiety
  • Depression & psychological distress
  • Poorer living conditions
  • Less life satisfaction
  • Lack of access to needed resources
  • Limited socioeconomic mobility
  • A consistent pressure to be perceived as “good” or “non-threatening”

The NY Times published a video of young Black men talking about their experiences living in America which demonstrates some of the emotional consequences of growing up Black.  Please see below.


If you are feeling the effects of racial discrimination, please read my previous post 3 Powerful Ways to Cope with Racism. And if you’re looking for some suggestions on how to be an effective ally in fighting racism, 11 Things White People Can Do to be Anti-Racist Allies via Alternet.org is a great resource.

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