The Media's Negative Portrayal of African American Males Essay

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The Media's Negative Portrayal of African American Males


They squirmed, pencils tapping their desks anxiously; none of their papers contained more than five names. Eventually, all thirteen pairs of eyes made their way from the papers, to the faces of their friends, and eventually, they restlessly shifted over to me and stopped. “This is hard,” whined one seventh grade voice. Another chimed in, “It’s all the same, I can’t think of any more.” The question I had asked was simple: “Please list as many young African American males that you see on TV as possible.”

However, the frustration that manifested itself in the room was proof that something was askew. I asked them to read what they had written. Every list was the same combination
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And just as the reign of these “tyrants” appears be coming to an end, another barrier to equality is appearing on the horizon: the media.

In my experience, TV in general is doing a huge disservice to any hopes of future racial parity by its extremely unfair portrayal of the young African American male. These young men are literally only shown on TV as sports stars, in the very best cases, and unfortunately most commonly seen as jewel-adorned rappers, spewing obscenities, making offensive gestures at the camera, hustling around scantily-clad young women as if they are simply commodities, and rapping about having sex and smoking weed. Honestly, in the past few months I have yet to see a young African American male portrayed as thoughtful, analytical, poetic, artistic, or even, sadly enough, remotely intelligent or mature.

This might be acceptable if the case was such, but my experience alone proves otherwise. I know plenty of young African American males who are mature beyond their years, and extremely academically inclined. However, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the media industry is either stuck on typecasting these men or deliberately choosing to represent them only as non-intellectual people. This is an outrage because inherently it does not allow young African American males to even entertain the idea that they can and should rise above the image of themselves with which they are barraged every day. By promoting these unjust…