[ View the story "Young and black in the USA" on Storify] Young and black in the USA How some young African Americans are navigating violence, racism and poverty.
The Stream· Thu, Dec 10 2015 15:46:33
Though Chicago and Baltimore are two cities that are far apart in the US, many in their African American communities share the same struggles: violence, racism and poverty.
Baltimore made international headlines in April 2015 after 25-year-old Freddie Gray
of spinal injuries while in police custody. His death sparked riots across the city, and some areas suffered damages including a pharmacy in west Baltimore.
Across the street from the burnt down pharmacy, the Enoch Pratt Free Library stands as a safe haven for many children in the community who try to escape violence and crime. Femi Oke sat down with Kristin Willis and her 13-year-old son Jordan Willis at the west Baltimore library to talk about the daily challenges they face in their neighbourhood.
"A lot of the riots going on were on our block... I try to keep my son safe by keeping him close by," Kristen Willis on living in Baltimore.The Stream
"I try not to stick around very long in this area," 13-year-old Jordan Willis on growing up black in Baltimore.The Stream
Baltimore is the largest city in the
state in the country, Maryland. But the city's child
rate is about 32.2 percent. And in 2015, there have already been 322
making it the deadliest year in the city's history. Most of the victims are African Americans.
Meanwhile in Chicago, protests erupted after city police released video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke a year ago. Some have
the city of trying to cover up the video, and they called for the mayor's resignation. The deaths of McDonald and Gray are some of the cases #BlackLivesMatter
to as systematic racism in the country's justice system.
In Chicago's case, the city is
the most racially segregated in the US. More than one third of all poor African Americans
in the city and surrounding area are "in high-poverty census tracts (where the poverty rate is about 40 percent)". Like Baltimore, Chicago saw a
in homicides in 2015. According to police data, 78 percent of the victims were black.
Malika Bilal spoke with two Chicago teens in Washington, DC on how they're dealing with the toxic stress.
" Going to school on the bus, I feel like everybody is out for my life," @Funches_Antwon Chicago high school student.The Stream
"I usually hold my car keys in between my two knuckles & that is just a habit I have formed," @Chima_Naira on walking through Chicago.The Stream
Many in The Stream community discussed the role of racism.
@AJStream Racial profiling is something that EVERY person of colour including myself must face. Who knew Melanin was so problematic.Joshua M. Service
@AJStream @_Dahlet_ African Americans need a better education system. Public schools tear down confidence by promoting mediocrity & failure.Telhare'sha Dawkins
@SoniaAnanti @AJStream My black family/friends/students/community, who r statistically more likely to be hurt by violence, accept it...TFSColeman
@SoniaAnanti @AJStream ...but white family/friends r ones who verbalize fear of urban violence. I think bc they EXPECT safety; we don't.TFSColeman
@AJStream Violence and racism are often uncontrollable stressors for kids and can lead to a sense of hopelessness.Noni Gaylord-Harden
But others looked to building confidence and bringing positive change as ways to combat the challenges black youth face in the country.
"You can find a safe space in the people around you.. And that makes me feel safe" @chima_naira on @AJStreamShreen
@chinditsafari @AJStream And it can get better. It may seem impossible now, but with hard personal work, you can survive and thrive. <3Tamika
@AJStream By demonstrating that youth are assets for social change, we alter negative perceptions that people hold about youth of color.Inner Harbor Project