Young black men: The carnage just gets worse

A majority of body bags contain black males under 40 years old, statistics show.

­­In any given year, Philadelphia tallies between 300 and 400 homicides. And without fail, about 60 percent of those victims are black men younger than 40.

“Think of this as a public health problem,” said John Rich, a Drexel University professor and co-director of the school’s Center for Nonvio­lence and Social Justice. “Urban violence is a huge problem and the main thing that jumps out of this is it’s preventable.”

In January, the nonprofit Violence Policy Center ranked Pennsylvania third in the nation for its black homicide rate, with 28.3 deaths per 100,000 people. That’s about six times the national homicide rate.
One media outlet recently topped an article with the headline “Philadelphia: The Epicenter of Black-On-Black Violence.”

“Black males killing black males is nothing new,” said Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety. “What is new is the extent the carnage has gone on.”

The carnage, obviously, has an immediate effect. But it also has long-term ones. Studies have shown that people who grow up with a lot of stressors are more likely to develop long-term health problems when they’re older, Rich said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black males have the shortest life expectancy.

Rich and his colleagues have done research in urban communities that shows the stressors there are comparable to war zones.

“We know that people exposed to high levels of violence suffer physical and mental consequences like [post-traumatic stress disorder],” he said. “It’s in many cases higher than those who come back from war.”

PTSD’s symptoms include hypervigilance/hyperarousal, re-experiencing and avoidance or numbness. Treating that PTSD early is a way to prevent future violence, Rich said. A program called Healing Hurt People trying to do just that is currently under way at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. It’s under the direction of Dr. Theodore Corbin, a Drexel emergency medicine physician who developed the intervention in 2007.  

“Trauma can make people cut off their ability to see the future,” Rich said. “One way to open up is to help them heal while also providing them with opportunity.”

Those opportunities can be as simple as providing young people places to go and things to do on nights and weekends.

“It’s simple,” Rich said. “It’s not without costs, but when we compare the costs, it seems to make sense.”­­

The implications

Immigrants also forced to deal with city’s murder epidemic

Jin Zheng’s little girls want to know where their father is.

They ask, she said, but she doesn’t know what to tell them. The reality is too difficult to contemplate.
Zheng’s husband,  Xiang Huang, was gunned down in the family’s Chinese-takeout store in Tacony in January. He was 27 and a father of three. The case remains unsolved.

“Our dream was simple,” Zheng, 25, said in Chinese through a translator. “We just wanted to live a better life.”

Like so many others, Zheng and her husband — Chinese immigrants who met in New York — moved to Philadelphia because it was a more affordable city where they thought they could build a business, buy a house, live the dream. And like too many others, they found that dream shattered.

Mei Ren, president of the Greater Philadelphia Fujian Association, said many Chinese immigrants she’s spoken to since Huang’s death are ready to call it quits. “Because this happens a lot, they want to move out of Philadelphia.”­­

“You hear too ­­many stories where the restaurant owner is murdered,” said Yingzhang Lin, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association.

Of course, it’s not just restaurant owners. In the last four months alone, violence has taken the lives of a store clerk who regularly sent money home to her mother in Mexico and a New York transplant who was about to start a new job. Jerry Ratcliffe, a Temple University professor of criminal justice, said it was reasonable to believe that the violent incidents could discourage others from moving to the city or opening a business here.
“We shouldn’t underestimate the impact that homicide has on the quality of life in the city,” he said, noting that one study put the cost of an individual homicide at $8 million.

But Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, noted that homicide is generally not random, meaning most of the general public has no reason to fear.
“Homicide, you’ll find, is a pretty personal matter,” he said. “It happens between people who are directly engaged in one fashion or another with a person they know.” 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NHL

Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.