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Challenge

Abstract

Black men in our society face enormous challenges. Some of these challenges stem from social attitudes and perceptions about African American men, especially as these perceptions impact education, poverty, employment, and health-related problems. Society's response to social stigma, the treatment of social and mental problems and racism are all evident in African Americans' daily relationships with others. Each of these challenges individually can be devastating; collectively, they become overwhelming and catastrophic. It is this author's supposition that the mechanisms that undergrid the challenges of Black men are embedded in race, ethnicity and culture, and that the pervasiveness and consistency of racism in our society impacts one's quality of life and livelihood. The pervasiveness of racial and ethnic differences in health care delivery, stigma associated with mental illness, and cultural insensitivity among some healthcare professionals are addressed in this article. Overt prejudice, systemic biases and cultural insensitivity are viewed as contributors to the overall racial gaps in and poor delivery of health care for Black men in our society. These infractions become serious when middle-age Black men are dying at nearly twice the rate of White men of similar age [Men's Health Network 2004); and when more than l in 4 adult Black men experience some form of mental health or substance abuse disorder during their lifetime [HHS 2003). This article closes with voices of Black men who live with the harsh realities of our healthcare system and the physical and emotional factors that create negative living environments.

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