Black folks like to complain that blacks get the short end of the stick, but we, as a people, need to change our mindset. We need to stop buying into the negative stereotypes that society has used to define us. Turn on the television on any given day, watch a music video, take a walk in any black neighborhood, or listen to hip-hop and rap and the stereotypes come alive.
Consider this Nivea ad:
It's offensive that a company would even suggest that having an afro made someone uncivilized. True, the ad is about being clean cut, but why the association between wearing an afro and being unkempt? There is a negative message behind this ad. The ad suggests that to identify with an afro, which is uniquely black, makes one less than human. It reinforces the stereotype that black is not good enough. Even more disturbing is the fact that a black person was comfortable spreading the message that an afro is unfit for civilize society.
I agree that blacks have gotten the short end of the stick, but we can set our own standards. It is our responsibility to step outside of the box, educate ourselves, and speak and present ourselves with respect. We need to take some responsibility for fueling several stereotypes. These are dominant in movies, our neighborhoods, our behavior, and our speech.
The Angry Black Woman Stereotype
Some black females are typecast and funneled into what society views as the typical black woman role. These roles include, but are not limited to, the bitter black Woman, the desperate black woman, the struggling black woman, or the loud, crazy, controlling black woman. One would think that there are no successful, poised, educated black women in the world. Black actresses should be more selective in the roles they audition for and accept because what is portrayed in the movies affects real world perceptions. Roles should be chosen that uplift the community, portray black women in a more positive light, and focus on addressing an issue and offering solutions, rather than reinforcing a negative image.
The Inner City Stereotype
Black neighborhoods are famous for corner boys. The term coined by sociologist William Foote Whyte, in his study Street Corner Society, can be used to describe some of today's black males. Why do black males hang out on street corners? Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post defines corner boys as _perhaps the most visibly anonymous demographic in the country. Young and black, feared and marginalized, they are the ones most likely to be viewed as a suspect in a crime and most likely to become the faceless victim of one. In black communities, Corner boys represent men with no direction, no goals and no ambition.
There are black males on practically every corner, of every block, in every inner city neighborhood. This reinforces the stereotype that black men lack responsibility, are incapable of making sound life choices, and are on their way to prison.
Although there are many black men in college and many more making a difference, we don't hear of their accomplishments as much as we are fed the idea that black males are typically delinquent. The corner boy mentality feeds this negative perception of black males.
The Hood Rat Stereotype
Images of black women shaking and showing everything that God gave them, young men wearing their pants so low that we see their underwear and sometimes much more, being defined by material possessions, and numerous reality shows that show black people yelling, fighting and being bullies cast a dark shadow over black communities.
Shaunie O'Neal's Basketball Wives is one such show that allows black people to air their dirty laundry and attack each other with wine bottles and china plates. The behavior is appalling and the reaction of viewers is most likely, Look at those black people. Where is the respect for self?
The I Be Aight Stereotype
Some clever person (Dr. Robert Williams) came up with the term Ebonics to define the language of African Americans. I'm outraged because it's deplorable when educated people try to keep the masses dumb. When we prevent others from mastering language and communication, we prevent them from progressing in particular areas of society. We don't need to encourage, define, name or try to make improper English mainstream, when there are grown people who speak as follows for no reason at all: [Rihanna] might have been at the same place as me, but that don't mean we was together. She a cool person, I met her before, she like my music, and that's that. Meek Mill
Yes, sometimes, I be chillin at da crib, but most times, me dey a yard. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being our true selves, but there's a time and a place for everything, including subject verb agreement. When we consistently behave as though we cannot do better, what we continue to do is perceived as the cultural norm.
Now, Meek Mill will most likely make more money than I will ever see in my lifetime, but this should fuel the desire to be articulate. It's simply delightful when black people speak well, look well and do well. When this happens, it breaks the mold a little each time and starts us on our way to self-improvement and ultimately better communities.
A Street Corner Analysis of D.C. Crime http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/22/AR20080722027...
Quick Quotes: Meek Mill Denies Rihanna's Box http://www.crunktastical.net/2012/05/11/quick-quotes-meek-mill-denies-rihanna...
Photo Credit To Philasun
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Ebonie Jones is a freelance contributor with MNI Alive