Beyond Systems of Oppression: The Syndemic Affecting Black Youth in the US
Adolescence is a challenging time fraught with developmental changes that influence sociocultural identity, psychosocial and biological development. Integrating a sense of ethnic identity into one’s personal identity is an important task for Black youth during this developmental stage as it impacts aspirations, ideology, and interpersonal identity. Black youth are not only navigating this critical stage but doing so while traversing issues related to a syndemic of injustice rooted in anti-Black racism that permeates the very fabric of our society. This manuscript describes the syndemic of injustice framework as it relates to the ways in which anti-Black racism contributes to experiences of structural, symbolic and interpersonal violence for Black youth and how these experiences of violent oppression ultimately influence the developmental processes involved in identity formation for Black youth. Implications for social work practice are discussed.