I hate the term “hood disease.” I don’t use it. I don’t accept it. And it’s disrespectful. But I do understand there is a serious problem in our urban communities.

The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated about 30 percent of inner-city children are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, an illness commonly associated with soldiers who have returned home from war zones. The CDC says that some of these children – many of whom are African-American — live in virtual war zones.

I get that. But doctors and researchers at Harvard University claim that young people in the inner-city suffer from an even more complex form of PTSD – an ailment that some have labeled “hood disease.”

Really? I understand that many black kids – and kids of color – are severely traumatized by violence in their neighborhoods. Each day in communities of color there are violent acts: shootings, murders, rapes. And young kids are witnesses to some crimes – or have family members who have been victimized. Either way, it’s a deeply troubling situation.

But these kids have enough problems to deal with – like surviving. San Francisco State University associate professor Jeff Duncan-Andrade told reporters that education is secondary to survival for these children. “You could take anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, and the things that we are currently emphasizing in school will fall off their radar,” said Duncan-Andrade.“Because, frankly, [schoolwork] does not matter in our biology if we don’t survive the walk home.”

It’s certainly understandable that kids of color would have emotional issues from living in violent neighborhoods, but the last thing these kids need is some racially insensitive psychobabble tag that identifies them as having some sort of a disease. It’s racially insensitive and it’s problematic for kids of color.

“People from afar call it ‘Hood Disease,’ – it’s what academics call it,” Olis Simmons, CEO of the Oakland-based Youth UpRising, told a San Francisco television station. “In the real world where this affects real lives, people are suffering from a chronic level of trauma that doesn’t have a chance to heal because they’re effectively living in a war zone within your town,” said Simmons. “Terms like ‘Hood Disease’ mean it’s someone else’s problem, but it’s not,” she added. “That’s a lie. It’s a collective problem, and the question is what are we prepared to do about it?”

Wealthy white kids have been tagged with the term “affluenza” for their social problems. According to one psychologist, “affluenza” is a social condition that suggests  young adults whose families are rich have a sense of entitlement that explains away bad behavior because their spoiled upbringing makes it impossible for them to distinguish right from wrong. That’s just as preposterous as  “hood disease.”

Living in urban America is not a disease. We all have a responsibility to help address the root causes of violence in our communities – violence that results in emotional stress in black children.

But in trying to identify the problem, let’s not further stereotype black kids and lower their self-esteem by attaching racially insensitive slang terms like “hood disease” to describe their mental health.

What do you think?

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11 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: When Did Living in Urban America Become a Disease?

  1. Jiggle on said:

    Please everyone ignore Valdez. We need to discuss the subject at hand. I believe that you can get PTSD from growing up in a rough area or abusive family. Black brown or white nobody is immune. We need to find a way to help these kids.

  2. Honestly on said:

    A cave n!@@er went on a suburban savage attack in Santa Barbara killing 6. This is no surprise anymore. These neanderthal apes will cannibalize themselves with their violent nature. I don’t know about hood disease but I do know about the disease of hatred and denial that afflicts white n!@@ers. They should have never been let out of the caves of Europe.

  3. Linda on said:

    Excuse me, but I live in the “hood”–it is not where you live, but how you live.

    I am an intelligent African-American female who is gainfully employed and has held the same gov’t job for almost 24 yrs.

    I am deeply offended by J Valdez’s comments regarding Black folks being animals.

    There are good and bad in all RACES and you Mr. Valdez are a POS who needs to go back across the border or take the next boat back to Cuba or where ever you came from if you have that much HATRED for African-Americans!

    I love how you foreigners come to this country (most of you illegally) and
    run off at the mouth
    about minorities!!!

  4. janey on said:

    Joe their is no way you have any black in your blood at all. You dog black people out with all your name calling and insults. You would get more respect if you presented your point without all the hate and name calling. I question your IQ and the lack of happiness in your life that drives you to post the things you do.

  5. Honestly on said:

    What do they call it when a cave n!@@er goes on a killing rampage? Suburban savage syndrome.
    What do they call it when a beaner kills in the barrio? Taco n!@@er syndrome. Nubian brothers and sisters stay USA United Strong Africans.

  6. Cool Thug on said:

    Lecia M, you just showed your illiteracy and your silly ignorance. Not all of us Latinos come from Mexico. Pull your head out!

  7. Big Papa on said:

    Lack of jobs and the lost educational tools and programs that further one’s ability to aquire a substantial paying job have been removed from most communities due to budget cuts but the people who represent these areas are continually getting pay increases for doing nothing but lip service with poor excuses.city council members and other politicians continue to reap the fantastic bonuses on the backs of the poor.

  8. Big Papa on said:

    Wendy Tokuda is a undercover racist pure and simple! She coined the Frase and now it will stay forever because it’s what people like her, want as a stereo type for those of us who may live in areas of high crime. Most people don’t even understand that it’s all done by design!
    She, Wendy Tokuda, lives and reside in the Bay Area where crime is overtly high in some areas of the Bay. San Jose, San Francisco, Richmond, Oakland and Union City!Hayward, Ca.

  9. IanRousseault on said:

    It is a disease and ALWAYS has been! You should be offended by living in the HOOD, who in their right or wrong mind would want to subject themselves and their family to such animalistic, sub human existence? The HOOD is nothing but DEATH and DESTRUCTION, period! There is no other way you can view these animals that live in the HOOD, and brag about their horrible, sad, meaningless life. We really should have the Armed Forces go in and ANNIHILATE every breathing thang that is in the HOOD, and then start all over again! It’s so disrespectable to human life to live like animals and love that way of life, which is going to lead to an early death anyway!

  10. Nikki on said:

    Why do we blame others for our own mistakes. People are not born with violent thoughts that behavior is taught, and it is tought from home. it is the parents job to train up a child in the way they should go and when he/she gets old he/she will not depart from it. We need to stop putting the blame on President Obama, the white man or other.

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