Racism: A Prime Cause of Death - Musicians as an Example


Magic Sam – February 14, 1937 – December 1, 1969 – died of a heart attack after a very successful overseas tour.   Magic Sam is my favorite blues musician.

Did racism kill him at age 32?

Buddy Guy – July 30, 1936 – owner of Legends – still performing at age 84.   He’s been very successful, in spite of racism.


Michael Jackson – dead at 50

Billie Holiday – dead at 44

Charlie Parker struggled with heroin addiction.  In 1954, the death of his three year old daughter added to his troubles.  He attempted suicide twice that year.     When he died in 1955, at age 34, the coroner estimated that he was between 50 and 60 years old.

Sam Cooke – dead at 33

Donny Hathaway suffered from severe depression over the last seven years of his life and died at age 33, after jumping from his 15th floor hotel room balcony.  (sang: “The Ghetto

Little Willie John – dead at 30 – imprisoned for murder, reported cause of death – heart attack – significant rumors that he was murdered by a prison guard (sang: “Fever”)

Shorty Long – dead at 29 (sang: “Here Comes the Judge” and “Chantilly Lace”)

Jimi Hendrix – dead at 27

Robert Johnson – dead at 27 (wrote/sang: “Sweet Home Chicago” and “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom”) 

Rudy Lewis – dead at 27 (sang: “Up on The Roof”)

Otis Redding – dead at 26

Frankie Lymon – dead at 25 (sang: “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”)

Tupac Shakur – dead at 25 

Tammi Terrell – dead at 24 (sang: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

The Notorious B.I.G. – dead at 24 (sang: “Ready to Die”)

Aaliyah – dead at 22 (sang: “Try Again”)

Juice WRLD – dead at 21 (sang: “Wasted”) 

Did all of these Black musicians die because of racism?   No – but quite a few of them had serious mental health or issues with the law that may have related to racism.

Racism “kills” many Black people!.    Murders and suicides aren’t rare.   High blood pressure, asthma/lung issues, and other medical conditions often relate to environmental issues tied to being Black.

U.S. Non-Hispanic Mothers' death rate of is 12.7 per 100,000 live births. 

Black Mothers have a similar rate of 43.5 per 100,000 live births.

Numerous studies show that after controlling for education and socioeconomic status, African American women remain at higher risk for maternal and infant mortality. Indeed, one study showed that after controlling for income; gestational age; and maternal age and health status, the odds of dying from pregnancy or delivery complications were almost three times higher for African American women than they were for non-Hispanic white women.21 Relatedly, another analysis, controlling for the same factors, showed that college-educated African American women were almost three times more likely to lose their infants than their similarly educated non-Hispanic white peers.22

(Source:   https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2018/02/01/445576/exploring-african-americans-high-maternal-infant-death-rates/  )

As a white man, I can not emotionally understand what it means to be Black.   Tragedies abound!   Needless deaths are far too frequent because of racism.




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