The Centers for Disease Control says homicide is the leading cause of death for black men age 10 to 24. Black men are disproportionately targets of armed robberies and other violence. Advocates like Danielle Sered say there are few places for those men to turn, reports NPR. “The absence of services not only means their concrete needs don’t get met after they’ve been hurt,” she says. “But it also means we send a message that their pain probably doesn’t exist, and if they’re hurting, it was probably their own fault.” Sered says as a white woman who experienced sexual assault in her teens, she always knew there were people to help her. Now she runs the Common Justice program in Brooklyn, N.Y. The group helps people move and find schools and work. Common Justice also offers support for black men, like 30-year-old Donnell Penny.
Penny came to Common Justice as a participant. But for the past year and a half, he’s been leading a men’s group, serving as what he calls a credible messenger. Not only are there few credible programs for black men who survive violence, people in need don’t know where to find them. Says Penny: “If I walked outside right now and I spoke to some people in my neighborhood, and I was like, yo, if you were to get robbed right now, who would you speak to? And I’m sure they wouldn’t have any programs.”