Perceptions of African Americans in the US

For a class project, I was prompted to look up statistics involving African-Americans and numerous categories. In order to better gauge perception vs reality, I ended up looking at various statistics about domestic abuse, violence, welfare, and education. This was mainly in response to the many comments that I found under talk shows. There, usually in response to talk show videos regarding dating, I came across plenty of comments from both black and non-black people, and the perceptions from both sides seemed surprisingly similar in their biases.

The chief among these comments was the idea that black men were abusive and generally bad because of some secret self-hatred that society produced. On a personal level, I found it interesting how this comment acknowledged how society created a bad image that reflected in black men’s self-perception, and yet was willing to contribute to it at the same time. Statistically, the rate of abuse from black men was indeed higher than other races, but it was not a majority. Many organizations who advocate for black visibility and creating a more holistic view of black people pointed out how society’s pressures and expectations from biases can often come from media representation, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy where black men will develop an image of themselves from media, and may come to embody that image in one way or another. On welfare, many studies about America’s numerous welfare services reported that an equal amount of black and white people received welfare assistance, at about thirty-nine percent each. While this means that the welfare services are giving out equal amounts, the differences in America’s total population means that a higher proportion of black men are on welfare.

I just found these statistics interesting in how media-fueled perceptions of black men tend to be extremely generalized in ways that don’t affect others races to such a degree. While many perceptions turned out to have some validity to them, the extremes (“all black men,” “nobody wants a black woman,” etc.) to which they are held are wildly out of proportion. Many studies cited media representation as a major contributor to these perceptions.

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