5 Myths About Black Americans That Need to Disappear

3 min read

Despite significant and continued economic, educational and social progress among black Americans, inaccurate and offensive stereotypes persist. In part these myths are aided by the mainstream media (MSM). In reports about the state of “Black America” MSM tends to focus on reporting negative news or framing reports around the pessimistic view.

The MSM holds a lot of power to sway the minds of the American public. Not only does biased reporting reinforce negative characterizations of black Americans, it can also damage our sense of self worth as these images seep into our unconscious. Imagery and terminology that lead some to hear the word “black” and automatically think “bad.”

Black Americans are also routinely compared to white Americans when it comes to presenting measures of progress. These comparisons almost always inherently favor white Americans considering the history and current state of our country. If one group holds economic, political and cultural power over another for centuries – at times actively working to keep the other behind – should it really be surprising that the dominated group struggles to make gains?

This continued differentiation does more harm than good and serves for some to uphold white supremacy – the idea that white is better, black is inferior. It needs to stop. So, here are 5 myths about black people debunked.

1. Fatherless Homes/Broken Families

Just this week 2016 Presidential candidate Rand Paul invoked this stereotype as a reason for the unrest in Baltimore (instead of attributing it to a corrupt police system and systemic racism). Meanwhile, his 22-year old white son just got a DUI after crashing his car while driving drunk, among other dalliances with the law. Glasses houses, Mr. Paul.

  • According to a study published by the CDC in 2013, across most measures of parental involvement, black fathers are actually more involved with their children than white and hispanic fathers.
  • US Father Involvement Chart by the CDC Not only that, according to a Pew Research Center report, both black mothers and fathers are more likely to rank providing income as a parental priority than their white counterparts.

In general, across racial groups, the report also highlights that fewer men live with their children than in the past, so it’s not a “black thing.”

Does this sound like people who don’t care about taking care of their children?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a significant number of black fathers absent from their children’s lives due in large part to institutional racism that seems to embody a new form every few decades.

2. Under/un-educated

In the early 1960s, about 20% of blacks over 25 obtained a high school diploma. By 2012, that number climbed to over 85%!

When slavery was abolished in 1865 (which doesn’t mean everyone was “free”), approximately 40 black Americans had graduated from a college or university. Nearly 150 years later, over 3 million blacks have a 4-year graduate degree.

These educational attainments took place despite years of being legally denied access to white educational institutions, left to crumbling and underfunded infrastructure, and the dangers of lowered expectations.

3. Poor/Lazy/ Welfare Queens

Welfare

A common retort of racists when they have no valid argument, is to carry on about black “welfare queens.” Not only does this serve to demonize the poor and struggling – which is a topic for another post – it conveniently ignores the fact that white people (and other racial groups) also benefit from government assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps). In fact, whites receive the greatest percentage of SNAP benefits.

Income

In terms of economic gains, the median income of black Americans has steadily increased since the Civil Rights era.

 

Black American Income from Nixon to Obama Chart | The Girl Next Door is Black

The decline that began in 2008 reflects the economic recession that negatively impacted Americans across racial groups.  source

People have to work to make an income. Lazy people don’t usually work.

4. Affirmative Action

Some people hold the false belief that among other “handouts” black Americans receive, we also get preferred access to the best jobs and schools.

Historically, white women have benefited the most from affirmative action. Meanwhile, black and Hispanic students continue to be underrepresented at universities and generally make less money than their white counterparts.

5. Black on Black Crime

Is not a thing. To believe in the myth of black on black crime is to buy into the idea of innate black pathology. That somehow black people are predisposed to be more violent and destructive than people of other ethnic groups. It disregards the truth, which is that most murders are intra-racial in part due to proximity. Many cities the United States are still largely segregated by race, such that white people tend live around other white people, black people tend to live near other black people, and so on. You could say it’s murder influenced by convenience.

As you can see, the plight of black Americans is not as dire as some would have us believe. We have and continue to make tremendous strides and I for one am proud and other Americans should be, as well. Black people continue to survive despite having dogs sicked on us, being whipped like animals, strung from trees like dolls, raped like land to pillage, forbidden from attending the same educational institutions as whites and then mocked for being uneducated, tossed in prison with disproportionately longer sentences for burning rock instead of snorting powder, blamed for our own oppression and WE ARE STILL HERE. Look how far we’ve come!

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31 Comments
  • tunisiajolyn84
    January 1, 2016

    *claps* I love this for so many reasons. I actually learned a thing or two while reading it. Thanks for writing it and backing it up with facts. And this point is right on target “The MSM holds a lot of power to sway the minds of the American public. Not only does biased reporting reinforce negative characterizations of black Americans, it can also damage our sense of self worth as these images seep into our unconscious.” I’m always concerned about the self-worth of our community and how much the media can play into the inferior complexity. One of my favorite quotes is “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus And I think one of the best ways to be free is by loving self, loving others and being at peace because a mind filled with awareness and awakening can never be swayed by deliberate mental programs. We will see it, ignore it and continue to do what is best for ourselves and others. At least, that’s what I think.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      January 6, 2016

      I’m happy you learned something new! I had to write this post. It drives me crazy how much disinformation is disseminated about Black people. I agree with you about being “aware’ and “awake.” The more you know, the fewer falsehoods you’ll believe.

      Great Camus quote!

  • Linda Manns Linneman
    July 15, 2015

    I feel that God made us unique and special no matter what color our skin is. I don’t that that if a persons skin is dark they should be treated differently. There are good white people and good black people or whatever color skin you have. There are lazy people no matter what our race. People need to step back and realize, God created us all for a purpose. Thank you so much for your article.

  • Starla B
    July 7, 2015

    Beautifully said once again, Keisha. I love that you added numbers in this as to prove what you are saying. Racism sucks and welfare has no color!

  • Alina Conn
    July 2, 2015

    I concur that MSM is extremely bias and influences the mass audience in a very negative manner. I love these kinds of post cause it adds to my explanation and reasoning when arguing with friends and coworkers about these topics.

  • Sean
    June 24, 2015

    Magnificently stated. I love that you cited percentages so that people know you aren’t just making up numbers! I have this debate with friends all the time, and will refer them to this post.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      June 24, 2015

      Yes. I had to bring the facts ’cause I know some will question. I’m glad you’ll be able to use this as a reference. These myths need to go the way of the dodo bird!

  • Casey
    May 16, 2015

    Fabulous & insightful article. I love how you use such powerful & compelling graphics to share the info in such a concise way. Thank you for sharing!

  • Linkouture
    May 16, 2015

    A couple years ago I had a discussion with a group of friends (mostly white) about racism in the US. Most of them thought that our country was way better in terms of racism than it was several decades ago and I disagreed with them. I think your post sadly just goes to show how deeply racism is embedded in our society. I hope in our lifetime, and certainly in my daughter’s lifetime, that we can work on dispelling these stereotypes. Thank you for sharing your thought-provoking and well-researched post on SITS.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 18, 2015

      It’s good to hear that this discussion occurred. While obviously we need systemic changes, conversation still needs to happen to inform/educate people such that they support change.

      Thanks for your comment!

  • Lowanda J
    May 16, 2015

    Well done as always. I applaud you and look to see more of your work in the large scale news one day. You should have a talk show or a feature on someone’s daily broadcast. Love your work and all you do to shine light on the truth for all Americans.

  • Talitha Haynes
    May 16, 2015

    This is a great post. Where work I have arguing these points to my co-workers all the time

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 16, 2015

      I can imagine. Even people who mean well, sometimes perpetuate these myths because negative information tends to be more sticky than positive and there’s a lot of negative info out their about black people. Some people don’t know or have any meaningful relationships with black people in real life so they rely on what they read and hear. This is a big part of why I believe the media (including Hollywood) needs to be more responsible about how they portray minority groups.

  • Janelle @ Run With No Regrets
    May 16, 2015

    Really great post and simply put! We need to get rid of these myths! I especially hate the one about Affirmative Action…do a lot of white people really think Black people aren’t smart enough to get into Ivy League universities without a handout? My degree tells me otherwise, lol….

    Found your post at SITS!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 16, 2015

      It’s especially troublesome when you consider many of us grow up learning we have to work twice as hard as our white counterparts to get the same opportunities.

      Thanks for your comment, Janelle!

  • Paula Reed Nancarrow
    May 8, 2015

    Well done, ma’am. Clear, passionate, and great use of infographics.

  • Britney
    May 5, 2015

    Thank you for researching and posting this information. I agree 100% that these stereotypes need to disappear. I get so tired of other races looking down on Black people and comparing us all to what the media puts out.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 6, 2015

      It was cathartic for me to write this. I hear/read this stuff all the time, not just in media, but unsolicited social media, as well. I don’t expect this list to change the world, but I hope it helps at least a few people question their perspective.

  • mypixieblog
    May 4, 2015

    Your blog post made me so sad–not because I disagree with anything you’ve written (quite the opposite, in fact) but because I see the racism everywhere and I WISH this wasn’t so spot-on. The other day I was watching the news at the gym and nearly tripped over my feet on the treadmill, because I wanted to nudge my bf who was next to me. “DID YOU HEAR THAT?!” It was a reporter who was essentially saying that Obama was responsible for what was going on in Baltimore (!??!) and then he went on and on about the looting and showing such a one-sided argument. It just… hurt my heart 🙁 And I know that as a white girl living in America I can only really understand a fraction of what that must feel like, even though I grew up in a very mixed neighborhood (I’m proud I was one of two white girls on the bus!).

    I can only hope that we continue to move forward, that the deaths caused by police brutality come to an end, and that we stop perpetuating false stereotypes.

    Many thanks for sharing this and for the insightful information within 🙂 XOXO

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      May 6, 2015

      “DID YOU HEAR THAT?!” It was a reporter who was essentially saying that Obama was responsible for what was going on in Baltimore (!??!) and then he went on and on about the looting and showing such a one-sided argument.

      All the time. Some people try so hard to ignore injustice & prejudice. They come up with 100 different excuses to explain a situation instead of the obvious one. I understand that people don’t want to believe life is unfair or that some are born into privileges that others of us don’t receive, but it’s reality and needs to be dealt with. Not excused away.

      Thank you for your comment!

  • Jarret Ruminski
    May 2, 2015

    Just speaking to the welfare issue: ever notice how discussions of welfare never mentions places like eastern Kentucky, where generations of white poverty were (and still are) so severe that LBJ targeted the region as ground-zero for the War on Poverty? Welfare has no colour because poverty has no colour.

  • Baydian Girl
    April 30, 2015

    I learned some facts from this but what’s even better is that I have a friend who’s going to love this and use it in her arsenal against those who perpetuate lies about the African American community! So excited to share this!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      April 30, 2015

      I’m glad! I hope it’s helpful for many. I am beyond sick of people looking down their nose on black people.

      • Baydian Girl
        April 30, 2015

        Agreed! We are not inferior in any way.

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