AFRICANGLOBE – National studies have found that young Black males in Louisiana are 20 times more likely to be homicide victims by age 24 than other groups.
But as with the rest of the population, the primary cause of death for Black males under age 15 is accidents.
And after age 35, the causes of death for Black men mostly align with the rest of the population, with heart attacks being the primary culprit.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and other sources show homicide far exceeds any other cause of death for Black men aged 15 to 35.
One report shows homicide rates more than twice as high as accidental deaths for Black males age 15-19.
A 2009 national report shows Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in the per capita homicide rate for Black males.
The reasons for the high homicide rate among young Black men vary, said Jimmy McJamerson, Grambling State University retired history professor, and Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge.
Broome chairs the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family, which received a report on deaths.
“It is very alarming,” Broome said. “The high mortality rate among African-American men could be attributed to several reasons.”
McJamerson agrees but says the reasons boil down to a few basic causes.
Topping the list is that too many young Black men imitate the “gangster lifestyle,” idolizing rappers who portray themselves as tough thugs who carry guns.
“As for Tupac and Biggie, young, gifted and visionary African-American males who preferred the gangster lifestyle, now they are silent in their graves,” McJamerson said.
“They lived the thug life. They believe they would die early in life.”
But there are deeper reasons, too, he says.
Many young African-Americans waste their lives because they’re not aware of the struggles of those who came before them.
“If they knew more about our great history, they would know the type of things they’re involved in would only lead to negative results,” he said.
Over the years, especially after integration, Black communities changed, he said.
Parents took two or three jobs “trying to keep up with the Joneses and they forgot to pay attention to the fundamental things in the Black community.”
For example, neighbors once would discipline children who misbehaved “and the child was chastised again when the parents came home.
“With integration, all that went away,” McJamerson said.
At one time, teachers would see parents at a store or in church and tell them how their child was performing and behaving in school.
“But with integration, we lost that.”
Broome said she believes “there are so many parts of the equation. There’s family environment, lack of education and other elements in society” that influence young men.
The Commission on Marriage and Family is looking at policies that might improve the situation, she said, and it could assemble some suggestions for the governor.