A provocative, sociologically-minded piece on the mainstream media ignoring mental illness among African Americans appeared late last week in the Milwaukee Community Journal: http://www.communityjournal.net/mainstream-media-tend-to-ignore-blacks-mental-health-problems/. It includes key commentary from Dr. Leonard, a sociologist in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University and author of After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness (featured on our Reading List a bit back).
“Even when the topic is more about black celebrity than race, mental illness, particularly in famous athletes, is viewed as “evidence of a criminal character. … Media go immediately to focusing on the purported pathologies of the players themselves and don’t want to see what the broader context is,” Leonard says. “The history of race and mental health is a history of racism and the white medical establishment demonizing and criminalizing the black community through writing about their ‘abnormal personalities’ and being ‘crazy.’
“That history plays out in mainstream media coverage, but it also affects public discussions about mental health because it has so often been used to justify exclusion, segregation and inequality” in mental health treatment for African-Americans.”