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Stereotyping the Black Male in the U.S.

Updated on April 20, 2010

Chicken and Watermelon

Changing Stereotypes of Black Men

So Ghetto


Stereotyping has damaged the black man's image in the eyes of their son's, daughters and society. Black men are now beginning to believe and therefore are living up to the demeaning and derogatory assumptions, about how they act, react; behave as males, fathers and employees. The media, the news industries, clothing industries and other societal mainstream affiliates have cornered the market on representing black males in a stereotypical manner, that disproportionately depict black males as criminals and ghettoized. Within this paper this writer will bring up a few topics that are up for debate. This author will present examples, reliable resources as well as articles of opinion on the matter of stereotyping black males in the United States and it's damaging effects.

Since the days of slavery; the early 1600's, Black males have been labeled shiftless, workless, lazy, angry, aggressive men and sometimes seen as savages. Stereotyping alone has being used as a reference in how people perceive people from other cultural backgrounds with very little knowledge about the culture, race and values of that set group. It is so widely used, people from the very same culture are now stereotyping their own race and culture; judging by clothing, age, name, address, down to the educational institutes they attend.

What do we say to people who assume that the images portrayed on television are the true representation of the person, people, or group being televised? For instance, in 1974 through 1979 Good Times was a series on television. The plot outline was described as a television show about a poor Afro-American family making the best of things in the Chicago housing projects. At this time there weren't many other television shows that exhibited what the average black family was like. Good Times became the stereotype/posterboard for how black families lived; poor and struggling, but never getting anywhere. This deception tainted the outlook on the average African American family, making it clear to all viewers that black families struggle for equality and freedom from poverty whether educated or not, remain oppressed, classifying Black people as the working class poor. Black people cheered on Good Times, never focusing on the fact that this was not the proper nor correct way to portray us as a race.Nor did they realize that the characters on Good Times would be the epiphany of who the black family is and our role/status in society. At the time we were more concerned and proud that all black cast made it to mainstream television.The absence of positive images in television gave viewers a highly distorted picture of the black family and the role of the black male. As time progressed Black America saw the ignorance in Good Times and other movies were made, exposing stereotyping, like in the movie Crash. In this controversial movie, "Crash" exposes, the reality of racial profiling,bigotry and racial stereotypes. (2005) invented or creatively-spelled variants of more traditional names. Some names are created using fashionable syllables, for example the prefixes La- or De- and the suffixes -ique or -isha. Also, punctuation marks like apostrophes and dashes are sometimes used (though infrequently). For example; Adjanique; pronounced; ah-jah-neek for a girl's name and DeAndre'; pronounced; day-on-dray; usually used for a boys name. Stereotyping have labeled these names as ghetto names. Most likely when reviewers see these names on an application they have already preconceived who they are, before they know the origin of the name. Black comedians, often joke about the names black parents give their children, bringing more attention to the stereotype.The name Shequita; pronounced sha-quee-ta, Jackson sets off an alarm to employees that she may be ghetto and loud; another stereotype that depicts black woman as boisterous and ignorant. When these type of creative names are seen on applications they are more than likely set aside into the no-hire pile. Something as simple as an address on an application may be victimized with the stereotype that you can bring the person out the ghetto but you can't bring the ghetto out the person.If the address rings a bell that it is a dominantly poor area this application may also land in the no-hire pile. While parents still use creative names for their children, they are not thinking about how the person will be judged accordingly.

Our young black youths have been a direct target for racial profiling; based on stereotyping. Take in consideration; a young black male in a flashy, expensive car with tinted windows and spinning tire rims, blaring hip-hop music from the car stereo. He would be a direct target for racial profiling. Society automatically perceives this young black male as a drug dealer, giving legal authorities the right to pull them over at any given time. This type of profiling can cause damage; due to the stereotyping involved. Posing young black men as angry, hostile, aggressive and out of control puts their lives at risk. It is one of the most determental social issues in Black America. Their right to freedom of expression is compromised. Black males no longer have the right to express themselves through fashion. A flashy car, expensive clothing, and jewelry holds a certain status quo in the black community, just as it does in every other community. Yet black men are being targeted behind holding or showing this status. Parents are now teaching their young black sons to dumb it down, whether it is in the streets, in the classroom or in the work force.

At one time parents gave their children names that adhered strength and honor, with the intentions of branding their children; hoping the name would build their character. Handing down names from for=fathers was a birth right. But nowadays, blacks are often

Stereotyping even has an effect on the type of educational institute a black male attends. It has been argued that ivy league college students get a better education than attending a historical black college. There is a myth that black students attending ivy league college get a better education than they would if they attended a historical black college. The truth is only in the outcome of the education. Blacks that attend black colleges will get booted out of being hired by blacks that attend ivy league colleges; due to fact that ivy league college hold prestige based upon the name of the college.

Overall, the existence of stereotyping African Americans has a wide range of effects, that are detrimental in how African Americans are preconceived. The worse effect of stereotyping is when people use stereotyping and it leads to discrimination or hate crimes. A prime example is the Jim Crow laws. This law made African American's looked upon as inferior. In results they were treated unequal. They were not given equal education and given inadequate living arrangements.

Stereotyping also prohibits us from getting to know people for who they are, not how they are perceived through stereotypes. Lumping up people stops us from learning and appreciating other cultures, leaving no room for individual differences

In conclusion, As a human race, we should be fighting against the simplicity and unfairness of stereotypes. We should be fighting back against the media who perpetuate all of these harmful images of African Americans and people as a whole.



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    • profile image 

      5 years ago


      We are launching our very own crowdfunding campaign for our company Protos Eyewear to crowdfund custom fit eyewear made via 3D printing and we would love your help and support in any way, shape or form. Kickstarter no longer allows eyewear so we have to work extra hard to get the word out. If you would like to write about our compelling project then please check out our crowdfunding press kit page here:

      We would be forever grateful if you shared our project with your readers, friends, or whoever you think would be interested as we prepare for our launch!



      Protos Eyewear

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Black people won't mess with you if you are black. All the white man gotta do is paint himself black. And the black faced cops can arrest all the thugs w/o racial politcis.

    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      5 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      What a great hub!!!!! It's too bad that our black men are portrayed in such a stereotypical manner. Not only are black males seen in such a negative light, our African American women are given a bad name as well. The pictures of the fried chicken and watermelon are a negative stigma to the black culture. When I look at that, it makes me even more determined to not let such stereotypical images define me as a person. I must say that not all people of color are bad people. The images that I see do tend to cast a very poor light on us as a whole. But me personally, I'm a married mother of two, I work very hard for whatever I want in life and I'm doing my best to instill those same values into my children. Your hub presents a lot of great points well worth reading about. Voted up!!!!

    • profile image

      Mya B 

      6 years ago

      I am coming to you with this very important film that will help offer another side to the black man versus media stereotypes through an important film, “Black Men, Afraid of Dark”. I am passionate about this piece because I constantly keep seeing black men get murdered behind these stereotypes and not able to ever do anything about it. This has been the case for Emmitt Till, Trayvon Martin and all the other youth and men who don’t get profiled. The world is full of stereotypes, but for black men, the fear that the world has of him has cost them their lives.

      I have a lot of notable people in the film that we can both benefit from in promotion. So far, I have interviewed Vondie Curtis Hall, Steele of Smif-N-Wessun, Malik Yoba, Sadat X of Brand Nubian, Peter Gunz, Kenya K. Stevens of Juju Mama, Kevin Powell, NY Senator Eric Adams, Dr. Llaila Afrika, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Phillips Bradford (grandson of man that had Ota Benga in the Bronx zoo), Tom Burrell, Sam Greenlee, Lou Myers, Independent hip hop and R&B artists (mikeflo, Chen Lo, Chris Rob, Hasan Salaam, etc) and black men from all walks of life and backgrounds.

      This film is necessary because for the first time every I talk openly and honest to black men from various backgrounds and age groups about their upbringing, relationships, how they define manhood, etc. I would love to partner up with your organization and work with you to campaign against these negative stereotypes, making this a world issue that is necessary to address.

      Please help me spread the word about this powerful film by helping me raise the necessary funds needed to complete production and post-production of this very important film. This film has been self-funded and denied various grants. However, I work as a preschool teacher everyday, putting all my money in it because I know that this film will heal the world by showing a side of black men through their eyes.

      The time is now. Please help me raise $25,000 by June 24th. It’s an all or nothing campaign so if I don’t raise it all, I don’t get one single penny… OUCH!

      Here is the link. Please help bring this project out. Production is almost done, but because of the high cost of editing, I won’t be able to do it alone.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i cant even go to kfc anymore cause sterotypes so bad man, and i cant buy kool aid for ma six kids cause i get made fun of for using food stamps

    • profile image

      daniel curry 

      7 years ago

      im a black man myself whos been stereotyped, do i play ball, am i on drugs,am i on probation,have i been tested for hiv? stereotypes suck allright

    • purpleangel47 profile image


      8 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      A lot of good information. My hope for my six grandchildren is that they won't fall victim to stereotypes, nor will they perpetuate the concept.

      Thank you for the hub!


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