There are many, many forces — physical, historical, cultural, and political — that shape and constrict the life chances of black males in the U.S. Some of these are longstanding legacies that may take generations to shift. But in other ways, the social, economic, and symbolic place of African-American men and boys is recreated and reinforced every day. In particular, public perceptions and attitudes toward black males not only help to create barriers to advancement within this society, but also make that position seem natural or inevitable. Among the most important mechanisms for maintaining (or changing) these perceptions are the mass media with their significant power to shape popular ideas and attitudes.
The mass media being one of the greatest influencers of public perceptions, their false portrayal of black males significantly impacts how the public perceives and behaves toward them, how black males see themselves as well as their the opportunities and achievements. But the mass media canbe part of the solution. Of course, the responsibility is not the media’s alone. But the media, as the public looking glass, can and should show the full spectrum of the lives of black men and boys.
Research shows that dehumanizing portrayals of Black people in entertainment, advertising and the news are dangerous. Constant stereotypes in media create negative perceptions, which lead to real-world consequences for Black folks. ColorOfChange organizes people-powered campaigns and works with industry leaders to create a more honest and less harmful media landscape.
Over the past half century, African Americans have made remarkable progress in toppling legal segregation an...
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... on the lives of African Americans “include everything from less attention from doctors to harsher sentencing by judges, lower likelihood of being hired for a job or admitted to school, lower odds of getting loans, and a higher likelihood of being shot by police.”.
Mainstream media often portray African-American youths, especially black men and boys, as criminals, crime victims and predators. These stereotypes, according to social justice advocates, can create a racially charged atmosphere that results in violence such as the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.
Media coverage of the February shooting of Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, exemplifies negative treatment of black youths in the media. After a controversial delay, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the unarmed teenager’s death.
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