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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.”
NicolasMartinBreteau (@NMartinBreteau) April 29, 2015
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.
- 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.
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
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.
In terms of economic gains, the median income of black Americans has steadily increased since the Civil Rights era.
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!