Oftentimes African-Americans — especially young, African-American men — are portrayed in the media as violent, aggressive, and depressed. There seems to be a general assumption that violent behavior is an innate characteristic in African Americans. Research and common sense prove that isn’t true.
According to a study conducted by Lorena Estrada-Martinez, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, different types of stress, particularly from racial discrimination, can influence the risk for violent behaviors and depressive symptoms in African-American young adults.
“African-American youth who were at greatest risk for engaging in violent behaviors while transitioning into adulthood were those who experienced higher levels of racial discrimination in addition to general daily stressors. Contrary to expectations, stress that stemmed from financial shortage and neighborhood stress were not associated with the risk of violent behaviors during emerging adulthood,” Estrada-Martinez says. She notes that risk for violent behaviors decreased over time. Here’s Estrada-Martinez recommendation for solving the problem: “It’s important to note that racial discrimination serves as a lightning rod for violent interactions and must be eliminated from society at the structural level.” (Read details of the full study here.)