Black stereotypes are destructive because they’re connected to racism and discrimination. They insidiously form your unconscious biases that are reflected in your assumptions, beliefs and attitudes toward us as Black people. Not only do stereotypes strip away our individuality and our true character, but they rob us of access and opportunities that we rightfully deserve.
For example, there’s this assumption that all Black people grew up impoverished and in the “inner-city”. And that we all come from broken homes with absent fathers who are either dead or in prison. Black men are believed to be menacing, violent thugs while Black women are perceived as angry, sassy and hyper-sexual. It’s assumed that we’re all uneducated, unintelligent, and inarticulate. Plus we’re lazy and prefer government hand-outs rather than “pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps” and pursuing the American Dream like everyone else. Our only perceived talents are in sports and entertainment. And when we do succeed in any other area, we’re considered anomalies deserving of condescending praise.
These beliefs have been passed down through generations in your family homes and reinforced by lack of accurate Black history taught in schools. Those beliefs are further cemented by images in the entertainment and news media. What’s dangerous is when you accept, condone and/or perpetuate those stereotypes and simultaneously deny your unconscious biases toward us. Or you claim “I don’t see color.” We all do; and instantly make judgments based on our conditioning.
Even as a Black person, it takes a lot self-belief, exposure to positive role models, and personal achievement to not buy into those negative stereotypes. And a lifetime of working twice as hard to whittle away at people’s unconscious biases so that we can co-exist and live fully in our truth – as individuals vs a monolith.
S.I.T. With Yourself in February
This month’s #soakedinthought journaling prompts are inspired by Black History Month which is observed in February by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in celebration of the African diaspora including African-American history.