Member Login

“Typical African American” – The Follow up

Hey it’s George. This blog is a follow up to the last blog I wrote called: “Don’t be the Typical African American.”  I writing you today in response to all the comments I received. This time I will be a lot more specific about what I mean.

First I want to start off by saying I didn’t mean in any way, shape, or form that I was better than anyone. I do some of the very same things that other African Americans do. Yes, I buy the same expensive clothes that some African Americans buy; I listen to the same R&B and Rap music that many African Americans listen to, etc. However, these commonalities in African American culture were not my focus last week. What I was really targeting was the less helpful habits that some of us African Americans are following and the types of stereotypes that develop because people think this is what African Americans do or want in their communities.  I’m talking about the violence and drug abuse that some African Americans are falling into.  For example look at these statistics, and tell me what you think.

  • About one of four black men aged 20 to 29 is in prison, on probation or on parole -- more than the total number of black men in college.
  • The leading cause of death among black youth is homicide. A 1991 report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that 48 percent of black males between 15 and 19 who died were shot, while the figure for white males was just 18 percent.
  • For blacks in Harlem, life expectancy is shorter than that for men in Bangladesh; nationally, black men aged 15 to 29 die at a higher rate than any other age group except those 85 and older.

I’m also talking about the health stereotypes that African Americans are falling into. Can we change these statistics?

  • Currently, 35.9 percent of African American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with 31.7 percent of all children those ages.
  • Over two decades, the prevalence of obesity climbed from 10.5 percent to 18.1 percent among all adolescents’ ages 12 to 19. For African-American adolescents, the prevalence of obesity rose from 13.4 percent to 24.4 percent.
  • African American children are more likely to develop diabetes than white children. Among children born in 2000, white boys have a 26.7 percent risk of being diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes, while African American boys have a 40.2 percent lifetime risk. White girls born in 2000 have a 31.2 percent risk of being diagnosed with diabetes during their lifetimes, while African American girls have a 49 percent lifetime risk.
  • The statistics are even more alarming for African American adolescent girls ages 12 to 19. By 2008, 29.2 percent were obese—the highest prevalence of any age group by gender, race or ethnicity. By comparison, fewer than one in five Hispanic or white adolescent girls was obese.

Now how do you feel about the way that people look at African Americans? People portray African Americans as violent, less educated and obese, and so far, statistics are showing that they are right. I feel sorry for every African American who is proving these statistics WRONG but are still portrayed the way marketers and society have decided most African American are like. To those of you who are okay with being just another statistic or okay with going along with the images others have portrayed of you and your lifestyle then you REALLY need to stop and think. Do I want to be dead at the age of 18 from violence? Do I want to be a part of that 36% of African American kids and teens who are obese and at risk for all sorts of health problems? I’m pretty sure the answer will be no, so prove it. Don’t be another statistic. Be the African American that you want to be portrayed as.

George, Shift Crew Leader

Shift your Thinking, Shift your Actions, and Shift your Health!  


© Copyright 2011. SHIFT. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Contact

Support for this website was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation