Stereotypes of African American Males

May 4, 2010
The view of the African American male has been distorted and twisted by the media from the conception of African American enslavement and even through the so called “color blind” society of today. The majority of our citizenry living within the borders of the United States would like to consider themselves to be unprejudiced and unbiased toward racial matters; however, when there is a murder on the 6 o’clock news, our minds shift to a thought of an African American male as the suspect of the crime. One could observe an African American male and automatically view the individual and sterotype and judge without entertaining one’s acquaintance. Stereotypes of African American men are often negative as the result of how slave owners viewed their thoughts of entitlement of ownership. Thereby, we appear to be stuck in a perpetual allusion of one’s superiority; thus the race problem.
One major fundamental character is the stereotype of the African American from archaic minstrel performances which appears today to crop up from time to time. Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment consisting of comedic skits, dancing and singing preformed by Caucasian and after the civil war, African American actors in “black face”. “Black Face” was frequently a performer outside of the African American race who painted his face with black shoe polish and greasepaint and wore woolly wigs and tattered garments to complete the costume. The performers in minstrel shows portrayed African American men as docile, passive and primitive. Another type of characteristic is called the “Mandingo” archetype which depicts African American males as excessively sexual. The Mandingo Theory suggests that African American males have larger genitalia but have smaller brains compared to a Caucasian. The Mandingo Theory is still around today particularly in the adult industry.

A sterotype that is commonly thought of when people think of African American males is violence. African American males are commonly associated with crime, even though it is proven by the FBI that the majority of crimes in the United States are caused by Caucasians and Hispanics. According to the FBI, in 2008 there were a total of 10,662,206 arrests in the United States, 69.2% of the people arrested were Caucasians, 28.3 % African Americans, 1.3% American Indians or Alaskan Natives and 1.1% Asian or Pacific Islanders. Despite of the FBIs’ records of crimes and arrests, people tend to relate African American men with violence.

African American males are defying their negative stereotypes every day. For instance, Martin Luther King graduated from high school when he was 15, graduated college when he was 19 and promoted peace all through the Civil Rights Movement. Another example of a successful black male is Dr. Keith Black, a world renowned neurosurgeon who has created a way to administer chemotherapeutic drugs directly to a tumor. One last positive African American male figure that I know is my dad, Dr. Eric Jackson, who has a PhD in psychology, a Bachelor Science in physical therapy and helps out in the community. As you can see by these examples, African American males can and did defy the racist stereotypes placed upon them.

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