Today, Black children and youth grow up in a world that looks very different from that of their grandparents at first glance. But do they share more with older generations of Blacks than we may see? Black History Month is a good time to look at their unique needs.
Systemic racism refers to mutually reinforcing systems (and policies) that limit power and access to opportunities. This generates and perpetuates inequity for Black Americans. And just like their parents and grands, America’s Black children continue to face systemic racism.
Healthcare during the pandemic is only the most recent version. Black Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, but they represent 33% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and 34% of COVID-19 deaths. Researchers are still trying to understand why. In cities with predominantly Black residents, infection rates are three times higher and death rates are six times higher than rates in areas with predominantly non-Hispanic white residents. This means that many Black children and youth are now mourning the loss of grandparents and older relatives in their support system. And since 9% of African American children under age 18 live in grandparent-headed households vs. 4% of white children, this can be a significant loss.
Black children and youth in America also have higher rates of poverty — 34% as compared with 12% of white children. Consequently, they have less access to quality health care, they may suffer from malnutrition or undernutrition, and they often have prolonged periods of adversity or toxic stress. Black children and youth represent only 7% of the all children here in L.A. County but in 2020-21, they comprise 24% of those removed from their homes for abuse or neglect. Of local youth who fail to graduate high school, 14% are Black compared to only 7% who are white. Not as much progress as been made for our Black communities as many think.
L.A. CADA provides culturally competent counseling for children and youth with trauma, other mental health issues, and family substance use. If we can help, call us at (562) 926-2676.