CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Within this year alone, seven rappers have been shot and killed. We spoke with a U of I professor who said music is powerful and rap culture reinforces the violence happening within America’s Black community.

Christopher Freeburg also said those rapper’s deaths reflect just a portion of the gun violence happening in smaller communities, like in central Illinois. He said what’s needed right now is even more community involvement.

We’ve reported on organizations like Citizens Against Gun Violence and Above the Rim.

They work to reach young people and give them guidance for their futures.

But Freeburg said more community effort outside of these groups could make the difference.

“They are doing this work at every level– at the education level, the religious level, and the community level. And I think that coming together more and more is what’s going to help more black men make it out of their twenties,” said Freeburg.

Within the last two weeks, we’ve reported on nine shootings in central Illinois. The youngest victim was only 12.

Freeburg said preventing shootings like those ones start with providing people of all ages with attention and care.