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Talking it Out: Constant Trauma and its Effects on Young Men of Color


In a brief he wrote this fall for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Drexel University’s John Rich related the story of Andre, a black 19-year-old who, while walking home from work, was shot by an unknown assailant trying to rob him of his necklace.

As Andre lay bleeding out on the pavement, a police officer insisted that Andre must know the name of his attacker. He also told him, “Don’t do nothing stupid, like die.”

This story, related by Rich, MD, a professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health and director of the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, illustrates a disturbing trend in how many people look at violence experienced by boys and young men of color: That the victims are at fault.

“It’s a huge problem,” Rich said. “It’s somewhat akin to asking a woman who was sexually assaulted, ‘What were you wearing?’ or ‘Why were you out at that time of night?’ That is blaming the victim. In the same way, people are saying to these young men, ‘You live in that neighborhood, you should know what you can and can’t do.’”

As a part of the Robert Wood Johnson’s “Forward Promise” webinar series, Rich will discuss such issues when he talks about the violence experienced by boys and young men of color and the effects that it has on public health.

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