It’s clear that in the United States, not everyone gets the same opportunities and privileges. For Black youth, there are many obstacles that can hold them back from reaching their full potential. Young Black people often have to work much harder than their white peers for the same opportunities and privileges.
This obviously isn’t fair, and it’s up to us to build the foundation for a just and equal world. To do that, we need to uplift Black youth and provide the support that will allow them to reach their life and career goals without having to fight past obstacles every step of the way. Here are some ways we can help.
Making Progress with Policies and Legislation
For accountability and lasting change, it is essential that we fight for policies and legislation that support the rights of Black Youth. Many laws that are aimed at reducing social safety nets, suppressing voter rights, and cutting off access to family planning services disproportionately affect the most vulnerable communities and make it difficult for Black youth to rise out of poverty.
Although the civil rights movement was essential for laying important policy foundations, we have a long way to go. We need to fight for people who struggle to get access to basic needs like healthy food and medical care. We need to make sure that diverse voices are heard in our democratic process.
Organizations Fighting for Racial Equity
Another way to uplift Black youth is to support organizations fighting for racial equality. One of the most well-known and important of these organizations is the NAACP, which uses advocacy, public education, and litigation to fight for justice.
Black Lives Matter, an organization that has grown significantly in the last year, is more of a grassroots effort that involves creating campaigns, protests, and initiatives. The BLM movement is concentrated throughout the United States, the UK, and Canada.
It’s important to support organizations you believe in and to focus your donations and time on Black-led organizations. In order to uplift Black youth, it’s important to defer to Black leadership. While white-led organizations might mean well, it is essential that these initiatives are spearheaded by those who are most affected by prejudice.
Barriers of Accessing Black Mental Health Treatment
Black youth face many obstacles. Due to systemic issues, many Black communities are low-income and are prevented from getting access to routine healthcare services, including mental health treatment.
This compounds many different problems and makes it difficult for people to get the care they need and improve their lives. Some of these factors also increase the risk factors for developing certain mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Not only do many families struggle to afford healthcare, but they may also not have access to insurance. Even if they do have insurance, long waiting periods and poor quality of care (such as not being believed by a therapist) for patients receiving assistance in paying for their medical bills can leave key issues unaddressed. Low-income schools are also typically unable to provide effective counseling programs, leaving Black youth with few options for mental health support.
It’s important to be aware of these issues and to actively educate yourself. Fortunately, there are many excellent Black mental health resources available that go into more depth and provide ideas for doing your part.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Mental Health Resources for the Black Community
- Black Mental Health Alliance, 12 Books on Behavioral Health Written by Black People
- Health, “5 Black Mental Health Resources to Fight the Harmful Effects of Racism.”
Organizations that Help Black Communities
While it’s important to fight for systemic changes, it’s also crucial to help individuals push past obstacles. Get familiar with organizations with a wide range of goals and find out how you can help. Don’t center yourself and your own feelings when you reach out to these organizations, go in with the desire to serve the needs of Black youth.
One of the best ways to educate yourself on the obstacles and challenges facing Black communities and Black youth is to read! Booklists on anti-racism, privilege, and systemic issues facing the Black community are all over the internet. You can always learn something and better prepare yourself to help.
Remember, it’s important to confront your own prejudices and continue to learn. We have a long way to go in the fight for racial justice, and it’s important for everyone to do their part and dismantle their own toxic beliefs. Read, take action, and never give up!