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Systemic Racism of Black Youth

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Systemic racism is a form of discrimination that affects the lives and well-being of people of color in various ways. According to some sources, systemic racism can affect the mental health of Black teens by causing racial trauma, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and reduced social functioning. Source

Systemic racism can also affect the educational and legal outcomes of Black teens by exposing them to higher rates of school discipline, police interactions, and arrests than white peers. These effects can have lasting impacts on the development and identity of Black teens. Source

Between 2011 and 2012, a reported 57% of Black students had access to a full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness compared to 71% of White students. Source

Justice System:

Black youth are more than four times as likely to be detained or committed in juvenile facilities as their white peers. Source


Any objective analysis of the data shows that for the vast majority of African Americans under the age of 21, there are simply no opportunities in our society; not only for advancement, but for any sort of survival. Source

However, most disturbing is that unemployment among black teenagers is an astounding 40.6%, and was as high as 50% last year. If discouraged workers – that is, those who have given up seeking employment – are also included in this calculation, the number of black teenagers without work rises to 70% – 80%. Source

Mental Health/Health:

Black adolescents, between the ages of 12–18 years old, have been characterized as a particularly disadvantaged group given misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis of certain mental health disorders, and underdiagnosis of others, and limited access to mental health treatment. Source

Black juveniles are less likely to receive mental health treatment than white adolescents, even though they face more stressors and risks for mental health challenges. Source

However, they are also less likely to be prescribed opioid medicines for pain management than white patients. Source

Black children and teens are often perceived as much older than they are. Because of this bias known as “adultification,” they get viewed as less innocent and less deserving of empathy — resulting in harsher, disparate treatment in health care and other systems. Source


According to a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, 94% of Black teens reported experiencing racism online in 2020. Source

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