The findings of a recent study done by American Sociological Association and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior are not only startling but a sad commentary about young black Americans. Whereas the life expectancy of a non-black person in the U.S. is 79, many young black Americans don’t expect to live through their 30’s. Only 50 percent of black youth felt confident that they would live to be 35. 17,000 adolescents were studied and 57 percent of respondents were white and  23 percent black.

Credit: Aaron Barksdale

Credit: Aaron Barksdale

“Uncertain (or pessimistic) survival expectations are emerging as an important marker of inequality in the United States, as adolescent pessimism about future survival has been linked to a range of deleterious behaviors, such as delinquency, fighting and violence, and suicide attempts,” reads the abstract from the report.

According to Andrea Warner, one of the study’s authors, the study is “the first to look at the survival expectations differently by race, ethnicity, and nativity,” and has been conducted since 1994.

“In terms of our explanation for the pessimistic attitudes of particular groups… We’re attributing this to structural disadvantages, exposure to neighborhood poverty and family poverty, exposure to violence,” Warner said. “We also discuss in the paper experiences with the criminal justice system, experiences or expectations with police violence.”

The study is a grim reminder that although #blacklivesmatter is at the forefront recently in regards to activism, there are still a population of young adults out there who don’t have a bright outlook on their own lives. Something must be done.


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