21 Shots for 21 Years


21 shots for 21 years has become a dangerous right of passage for college students celebrating their twenty-first birthday. Recently, readers wrote into the Dear Abby column recounting their horror stories as a warning to parents about this deadly “celebration”.


“We lost our daughter, Kim, to binge drinking two years ago on Nov. 25. She consumed between 22 and 24 shots in a four-hour period and died in her dorm room. She was only 18. Did she know the danger she put herself in? No.” states one Dear Abby letter.


“Before I turned 21, I had it in my head that I would take 21 shots for my birthday,” said a anonymous Howard University senior. “Halfway through I was too drunk to finish.”


Binge drinking is a serious concern on college campuses but many consider it more of a problem at traditional colleges rather than at HBCUs. 


“White kids do the binge drinking,” said Josef Martin who attends a predominantly white college, “We’re [Blacks] more into smoking and getting high.”


Taralynn Williams, a senior at Hampton University agrees, “When you go to parties with white people, they drink to get f-ed up, but at a black party, people are just laid back and chill. They drink but to chill not be sloppy drunk.”


According to Collegedrinkingprevention.gov 1,700 College students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. About 600,000 students are unintentionally injured while under the influence. Other potential problems that effect students while under the influence include assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, health problems and problems with the law.


“I would never attempt 21 shots, it’s a little much," said Williams, “Students always try to push the limits. There is competitiveness or peer pressure. They’ll figure it out it when someone dies.”