Black men tend to suffer from a range of health and economic disparities in this country, and the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA) is speaking out. This organization is committed to equality for all, whether it’s access to healthcare or freedom from persecution and violence. The country continues to mourn the loss of several African Americans who died at the hands of police officers, including George Floyd, who was just 46 years old when a local Minneapolis police officer held him to the ground until he could no longer breathe.
This is just another reminder of our country’s pervasive mistreatment of men of color. In the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death, the NCEMNA has issued a strongly worded statement on the effects of racism and social injustice. They’re shining a light on what it’s like to be a person of color in the U.S. with the hope that more providers, office holders, and community leaders will address these concerns going forward.
A Powerful Message from the NCEMNA
The National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA) is one of the largest organizations of minority healthcare providers in the world. It includes the Asian American Pacific Islander Nurses Association (AAPINA), National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), National Alaska/Native American Indian Nurses Association (NANAINA), National Black Nurses Association (NBNA), and The Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA).
The NECMNA has responded to the murder of George Floyd by distributing the following statement:
“The National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA) is outraged, and calls for justice and accountability of law enforcement and institutional structures. Once again, a black man, George Floyd, has been senselessly killed, before our eyes on national television. As a result, Americans of all races in all states are protesting the unjustified violence and racism that runs deep in the veins of America. We are experiencing tensions rising and protests for justice and peace are erupting locally and internationally because of the relentless and needless violence that continues against our communities of color, in particular against Black men. Black men die at the hands of police more than any other race of people.
NCEMNA, as the unified nursing voice for ethnic minority nurses across the globe, have observed healthcare professionals and frontline nurses bravely battle COVID-19 for months. Many have lost their lives and others continue to risk their health. Now, the exponential effects of systemic racism expressed by people who are supposed to protect lives, law enforcement officers, have rattled the very foundation of a humane society. Today, angry people are risking their own lives protesting, in some instances, unsafely, with no regard to what happens next. Will they succumb to the effects of racism, the coronavirus, or both?
Our country is in a state of turmoil and crisis that contributes to our long-term physical and mental health. Immigrants are detained and their children kidnapped, Asian Americans are attacked and blamed for the coronavirus, Native American women are kidnapped or murdered and perpetrators never brought to justice, people of color are not protected by the laws of this land. As nurses, we call on all health care professionals to declare a state of public health emergency to address these social ills and move this country toward true equality.
One thing is for sure, we know that the senseless violence must stop. NCEMNA stands in solidarity with those seeking justice, equity, and peace for all people. As nurses, we promote the celebration of diversity, understanding, compassion, and equality for all. We challenge the nursing profession to make changes at all levels in education, practice, research, and policy to break down institutional racism and discrimination.”
What It’s Like to Be a Black Man in America?
There’s no hiding from the health and economic disparities among African American men in this country. The facts speak for themselves.
According to the organization Mapping Police Violence, black people are three times more likely to die at the hands of police than white people; however, black people are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed than white people. Black men, in particular, are 2.5 times more likely to be shot by the police than white men. In fact, one in 1,000 black men can expect to die at the hands of police in the U.S. Furthermore, for Latino men and boys, the risk is up to 1.4 times higher than it is for whites. For Native American men, the risk is 1.2 to 1.7 times higher.
A recent study also found that “excessive police force” is a leading cause of death among African American men. It’s right behind assault, suicide, accidents, heart disease, and HIV. In some communities, police brutality can be just as deadly as chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer.
The Mental Health Effects of Police Brutality
In addition to the physical threat of police violence, these incidents can lead to lasting damage among minority communities. Police killings of unarmed African American have been linked to a range of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, chronic stress, and lack of emotional control.
Many black parents will make a point to sit down with their children and have the “talk” when they reach a certain age. We’re not talking about sex ed, but the threat of police violence. Parents talk to their kids about how to deal with the police, the dangers of institutional racism, and why they can’t always do the same things as white children, such as play music, drive fast or even go for a run in their own neighborhood if it means coming in contact with the police.
Even if a black man is not harassed or assaulted by a police officer, there’s a good chance they know someone in their community that was. This can lead to an overwhelming sense of distrust among minority communities.
Without trusted guardians in place, many black men tend to suffer from higher rates of crime than white people, and many victims may be hesitant to call the cops if it means talking to law enforcement.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, which issued a special report on “Black Victims of Violent Crime,” black people made up around 13% of the population in 2005, but they were victims in 15% of all non-fatal crimes. That same year, just half of all non-fatal violent crimes against blacks were reported to police. The report also found that:
- Younger blacks were generally more likely than older blacks to be victims of violence.
- Blacks who had never married were more likely than all other blacks to be victims of violence.
- Blacks in households with lower annual incomes were at a greater risk of violence than those in households with higher annual incomes.
- Blacks living in urban areas were more likely than those in suburban or rural areas to be victims of violence.
Being a black man in America can mean living with the constant threat of violence. Keep this information in mind as a healthcare provider as you continue to support your community during this difficult time.