Black Poverty and Mental Health

The environments we live in as young African Americans is toxic and a major contributor to our decaying mental health. Many of Us live in low income households. Many black people live in one person households, for those of us that live in inner cities its worse. We are exposed to homelessness. Exposed to drugs and drug dealers. Poorly maintained buildings. Police that suffocate the environments and harass black youths. Violence everywhere, gang affiliation. Guns, poor community outreach programs. poor communities.

We as a people are subjugated to dangerous environments that barely generate any positivity or forward mobility. The worst part is that no one is looking to assist these communities in this post I will highlight and explain some environmental factors that can contribute to black mental health issues.

These are: low income housing, one parent households, toxic parenting, traumatic family experiences, outside poverty, police over presence and brutality,  and racism.

  1. low income households

If you know any black people you know a lot of them live in poverty.  Roughly 20% in 2017 to be exact according to the US Census Bureau in the Kaiser Family Foundation. There are a great many of black people that are born into and grew living in poverty, and some of them lived in poverty their entire lives. For many of us that grew up in cities such as New York City or another big city like Los Angeles or Atlanta, poverty is all around us and this will contribute to mental health in many ways. Low income can be a catalyst for mental health issues, a lot of us suffer from say PTSD because of poverty. Not being able to afford clothes, or not being able to buy food to survive so certain conditions. This could be essentials such as being able to buy utilities. Poverty can also exacerbate mental health and it can contribute to the creation of mental health issues in the black community because of several factors According to the MCsilver Institute for poverty policy and research.


These houses also come in small sizes such as one-bedroom apartment buildings, project housing, also event houses for rent. These at times fit about six to seven people, sometimes even more. These could be siblings and their parents, siblings and a grandmother, siblings and aunts and cousins. With this, a lot of us don’t have a high income in order to sustain and support all these people in these houses. This means that we have low-income houses as well as too many people in buildings that can’t hold all these people. Some people may have to sleep on the couch so may have to sleep on the floor you know people may have to join beds.   These environmental factors can cause a strain on the brain and cause so many young black men and women to grow up with mental problems like anxiety, depression, PTSD Etc… This is because they grow up in these environments in which their cramped and there’s no food and other essentials. There are poor means to survival at times and these are conditions that no human being should be able to live in. Black people have had to survive through poverty to make it through and live to manufacture a sustainable living.

2. toxic parenting

We all know our parents love us, sometimes our parents can love us hard. At times our parents can love us too hard, this can be substituted as  “tough love”. What are parents considered “tough love” can also be mistaken for toxic parenting? Sometimes our parents can be too harsh on us, or ask for far too much of us and this can lead to mental health issues. This can create anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health issues as well. Being yelled at when we’re doing wrong, being beaten, name-calling. These are some factors that contribute to toxic parenting and are the catalysts for mental health with black children. These are byproducts of Cycles that linger and have seathed through our communities for Generations. Over and over again we have had toxic parents that have come in all shapes and sizes. So many of our parents are hard on us because they wish for us that have better lives than them. This translates poorly as they will berate us in public, sometimes in private, call us different names, call us out of our names, assault us, all in the name of love. They will even ignore our feelings tell us to “toughen up” when we feel as if we have an emotional response to something we disliked. Often times we are told not to cry when we feel emotional, hurt or sad.

        Sometimes we can’t get what we want to say out because our parents Force us to shut up and listen to them even when we’re right and we’re trying to prove that we’re right. At times we’re forced to live under their house and their rules and we cannot express ourselves even if the parent is wrong. Parents sometimes can be wrong and won’t apologize. This is important.  A lot of our parents raised us without apologizing when they were wrong. At times they would buy us gifts instead of just saying “I was wrong I should have done better” . at times our parents will force good grades on us and potentially not spend enough time with us and groom us and nurture us. they made teachers that the purchasing of material possessions is what love is rather than spending time in understanding the concerns beliefs problems that we as children face. disclaimer this doesn’t mean that our parents don’t love us. It just means that they love us harshly and wish the best for us.

     This isn’t an excuse, however, it is a reason. Our parents do have toxic love within them and they only wish the best for us and we must understand that. However, that doesn’t mean we have to respect it. Toxic love can lead to a plethora of different types of mental health issues that we have to address  On our own time. This is unfair to us and it is the reality we live in because we can’t choose our parents. However, they are our parents, so I do not wish for anyone to wish bad upon their parents or bad-mouth their parents because they deliver toxic love to them. Our parents are flawed and they do deliver toxic love to us. For some of them this is the only form of love that they received, and it is the only love they know how to give. But that doesn’t give them an excuse.

3. Traumatic family experiences

At times we as children may experience some traumatic family events such as a death in the family, or a family member that touched us inappropriately. This is being an aunt or an uncle that would play with us as children or touch us in ways we shouldn’t be touched. This Can Screw with a child’s mental and cause mental health problems as well. And in black families, this is often overlooked. This is done to protect our family members that are pedophiles potentially, as we look to protect our own. However, this behavior from our family members may cause trauma that lingers into our adult lives that we can’t overcome and cause different mental health issues. Again I’m no expert, this is just an amalgamation of all the things I’ve heard and seen from peers and other people that have gone through different traumatic events in their childhood. As far as death goes we can go through seeing our family members die, close relatives as well. This can leave a strain on our mental and cause many mental health problems in the future.


4. Police over presence and brutality

Stop and frisk, hands up don’t shoot, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland. Rodney King, so many riots throughout history. Over police presence, and police brutality all over the country can lead to serious mental health problems in the black community. Being consistently watched by police that over Patrol and streets. Being Shaken down by the people that are sworn to protect and serve us over and over again. Being labeled as a suspect because we “fit the description” of a suspect, these are the traumatic experiences that we as black men and women face in our everyday lives that can cause so many different types of mental anxiety depressive phases. Amongst others as well. police brutality can be disturbing at times as you see it so frequently with so many different video cameras around nowadays. The many different ways that police brutalized black youths can be traumatic to young black boys and girls who encounter police officers. Don’t get me wrong, many police officers go into the force thinking that they’re doing good. They believe that they’re going to assist out their communities. However, you don’t realize the different struggles that go on and some of them can’t relate to the black youth so they struggle to attempt to regulate situations. This can pose to be deadly to as many unarmed black men and women are killed by police brutality every year. One every 28 hours, according to the black lives matter. We’re consistently subjugated to different regulations and oppressive mindsets that lingering in the police. This is measured by how they think we are and who we should be and how they should manage us as people. and this in turn causes of the struggle with the very idea that we are even citizens in this nation.

5. racism

Racism is a plague that sucks out the life of this country. it controls and dictates the mindset of so many people and it destroyed the very idea that this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. racism is a succubus that swallows every bit of identity and freedom for all those that are subjected to it. As reminder racism is a subset of race, which is a social construct. Socially meaning that anybody who believes they are superior and has the power to and enact that superiority over another race, this is racism. It is not believing that one’s races inferior, no that’s only half of it. It’s not discriminating against somebody or being prejudiced against somebody. No, it is having the power of privilege over someone and executing that privilege in the desired manner or a destructive manner. this has been conducted throughout history from slavery to reconstruction, Jim Crow, to even today with police brutality. Racism is everything from being watched in the store to police brutality. It is also being told “we don’t serve your kind here,” or having someone call the police at an open Park and saying that they don’t like that someone is barbecuing out here and enjoying the free land. And then being told that you cannot cook out here even though you’re by law allowed to do so. Racism is attempting to get a business loan and being told you can’t. Not because your credit score isn’t good no simply you just can’t. racism is being at a predominantly white institution and attempting to get an education, however, you are subjected consistently to ignorance from people who never saw a black person before. And they attempted to touch their hair or yelling racial slurs at you and trying to tell a professor or any member with authority the incident and them not being able to do anything. This is racism, and this is what we go through every single day. It is a struggle of Black Folk and it can cause so many different mental health problems. Racism is attempting to tell your struggle to somebody and then not understanding, racism is experimenting black people with different types of diseases and attempt to find a vaccine. There are so many examples of setting black people back in any people of color back by using power and privilege. And it is a catalyst to our mental health and its deterioration.

These are some things I believe to cause mental health issues for us. If you disagree or like to add, I’d love to discuss it with you peacefully. With that said, thank you for reading.

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