I learned, to my surprise, that the highest number of suicides among Black Men are those who come from affluent families living in suburban areas. Black men in media depict lives that are consumed with drug use and violence; and these negative stereotypes lead to a sense of lost identity and suicide for young black men.
Recently, I got the chance to speak with Brandon Frame, an administrator at High School Inc., about this very issue. He said that the negative imaging of black men presented in the media motivated him to create an initiative called, The Black Man Can.
The initiatives’ goal is to promote a positive image for Black Men. Through multiple media channels, the initiative is able to shine a positive light on Black Men to encourage overall positive self-identity. Frame believes that what you see is what you’ll be.
I also learned that Frame is a man of many trades and passions, one of them being, Black Men’s health and the elimination of health disparities.
Frame identified many health challenges that Black males in Hartford face. Access to full service grocery stores, transportation and trust within healthcare systems are among the major issues impacting Black Men’s health.
As an educator in an inner city, he sees the impact of not having full service grocery stores. Fully nourished, healthy children will perform better academically than students who don’t have access to healthy foods. Frame grew up in Hartford as a child and can relate to the difficulties most of his students have. Now that he lives in East Windsor (a Connecticut suburb), Frame recognizes the benefits of having at least one full service supermarket in close proximity.
When it comes to access to healthy foods, transportation is an issue, too. If you’re living in Hartford, the nearest supermarket with fresh fruits and vegetables is typically not within walking distance, and often requires a car to get to. But not everyone has the luxury of having access to a car and public transportation to these stores require some time and planning, and is not always available for families who need it. “Going to the grocery store often becomes a huge expense and chore for many Black families living in Hartford,” added Frame.
When it comes to accessing healthcare (believe it or not), Black Men still face many challenges. According to Frame, Black Men in particular do not like going to see a doctor until it’s often too late. History has played its part in discouraging black men to trust health care services. “It’s a cycle that will be hard to break considering it has been a part of our history for so long,” he added.
But in speaking to Frame, I am also encouraged by the many initiatives that are in place to address these issues in the community. St. Francis’ Institute for Black Men’s Health, being a prime example. They teamed up with local barbershops to offer cancer screenings to Black Men. In the community, barbershops are known as “safe havens,” and this successful partnership provides a glimpse of hope in breaking the cycle of disparities.
Elizabeth Zyzo is a HJCT program intern and student at the University of Connecticut.
Health Justice CT provides a public forum for conversations, ideas and collective action. The opinion expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HealthJusticeCT or our funder.
Image credit by iStock Photos
Image credit by iStock Photos