The Impact of African American Stereotypes
Many of us have received a meager education about African-Americans. In fact, many people have no clue about African Americans beyond the information we have been given in the media. The result has been that most whites possess a distorted image of African-Americans. This not only limits a person’s worldview, but this is also dangerous. The media has no incentive to present accurate, much less positive, images of African-Americans. This is nothing new, but the inaccuracies have a greater impact on the lives of black people.
Throughout history, black men have been presented as beastly savage. For example, in the movie “Jersey Drive,” the blacks are portrayed as a bunch of violent thieves who thrive from stealing others” cars. Often, in the past they were shown as subhuman beings preying on the fragile white woman. With the advent of radio and television, black men were depicted as buffoons and criminals. Today, few images are presented, showing what black men are really like. For instance, Denzel Washington who is a brilliant actor, as well as a successful businessman in today”s society is a great image. Unfortunately, it is easier for most people who are not black to build their assumptions from media depictions rather than to go out and to meet the actual people.
These images have contributed to the most violent behavior against black men that this country has ever seen. Over the course of the twentieth century, thousands of black men were lynched for often false rape allegations by white women. Black men have been repeatedly denied access to opportunities for education and employment. To this day, black men remain perceived as a “threat” and are the targets of sometimes fatal acts of police brutality. It is not a coincidence that African American men are imprisoned and given stiffer sentences than their white counterparts.
Black men are not the only victims of harmful stereotypes. Black women are perceived as pillars of strength. This is a perception that a number of black women are proud to accept. The black women we see in the media tend to be powerful, nurturing figures. With the exception of a handful of supermodels, black women are often viewed as unattractive by the popular American beauty standards.
An overwhelming view of black women is that they are stern, perhaps even domineering. To illustrate, In “Soul Food,” the females are in charge of keeping the family together through all the struggles. These images of black women have led traditional society to ignore the real concerns of black women. Perhaps, they tend to be depicted as superhuman creatures. Black women are seen as being able to withstand any personal tragedy and to emerge totally prepared to face the demands of life.
In summation, few of us received educations about African Americans. Throughout history, black men have been presented as beastly. Also, Black women have been perceived as stone walls of strength, powerful, and nurturing figures. Few people take time to see the truth behind these stereotypes. If we really want to know about African Americans, the education that personal interaction and books provide are much more insightful than the media”s misrepresentations.