American civic life has been held hostage for too long by the fallacy of equating racial disparities with racism, or the now fashionable systemic racism.
But racial disparities, even highly negative ones, don’t mean racism.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. When broken down by race, suicide is the first leading cause of death among Asian American young adults age 15-24. This is true of no other racial group in this age range in America. Despite this disparity, very little attention is paid by society and by gatekeeping institutions like academe and private and public funding agencies as to what causes suicidal behavior among racial minorities like Asian Americans. There is not enough research on how to prevent suicide among Asian Americans in particular.
Suicide rates do tend to be high in some Asian countries, including Japan and Korea. (China’s rates are supposedly low, there’s no reason for trusting Chicom statistics, but Taiwan’s suicide rates are also fairly light.).
Why? Who knows. High stress in developed nations is probably a factor, but cultural issues are probably in play.
Black suicide rates in America are fairly low compared to white rates. And yes, Asian rates are fairly high. But suicide is just one expression of self-destructive behavior. Asians may be more likely to directly commit suicide while black teens may engage in suicidally dangerous behavior. White people may somewhat split the difference based on different cultural subgroups. In short, what looks like a fundamental difference may just be a difference in style.
Racial disparities don’t mean racism. Quite often they mean cultural differences.
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