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Leading Cause of Death for Blacks in America: Stereotypes

The main goal of Black Positive Image is to bring awareness to the positive aspects of the Black community. Oftentimes we are so saturated and bogged down with negative images, language, and reinforcement in the Black community, many of us become sightless and oblivious of the idea that positive elements of Black people do exist. Positive Black people are not the exception to the rule in our community. There are more Black men and woman in influential places than Obama and Oprah; they are not the voice of Black people.

At any given time, I can turn on the radio, television, read a newspaper, or engage in casual conversation amongst my peers and hear stereotypical latent convictions about the Black community. Some of these stereotypes are dressed in laughter; some are surrounded by sarcasm masked with a laugh out loud or just kidding behind them. Many Black people have taken these stereotypes and have embedded them in the culture of being a Black American. Being late and uneducated is now synonymous with being Black, to the point where having an education and being on time refers to "acting/being White" (an opposing force of being Black).

We have coaches from schools all over the country, even in high school, combing Black neighborhoods for the next Michael Jordan, because Black people can run and jump, really well. People are shocked and amazed when a Black person does not like to indulge in fried chicken, covered in hot sauce, washed down by Kool-Aid with watermelon for dessert. Black woman are portrayed as if they have bobble heads, attitudes, and an addiction to snapping fingers and sucking their teeth. Black men are viewed as good for nothing dogs, literally, with an end destination of jail as their play pen.

There have been systems set up to continue to permeate stereotypes as fact, not fiction. Our school systems are failing our children, with all the knowledge we have yet to understand that some children learn in varying ways. Some children need to be engaged beyond taking notes on a chalk board, yet are children, especially Black boys, are labeled as deviant to education and placed in slow education classes. As the education system continues to not enforce education, alternative teaching, or support for our youth, slowly our children are disappearing from the classrooms.

These stereotypes are not just written by "society" or "the man", many Blacks have begun to stereotype each other, pointing fingers and labeling each other as less than or greater than. This divide can be witnessed in the separate societies we have created within ourselves, Light-skinned vs. Dark-skinned, Native Africans vs. African Americans, Bourgeoisie vs. Ghetto, and Good Hair vs. Bad Hair. All of these divisions are fueled with stereotypes. We have more stereotypes regarding the Black race than any other race and unlike frugal Jewish people (a stereotype of Jews) our stereotypes are killing us.

The stereotypes in the Black community are the leading cause of death in the community. These stereotypes have plagued our culture, future generations, our relationships, and have begun to diminish our individuals from the inside-out. The media is very adamant and set on presenting numbers to support the stereotypes in reference to the Black community. Numbers and statistics are the Black communities’ worst enemy. Numbers are attacking us disproportionately (i.e. obesity, teen pregnancies, HIV/AIDS, incarceration, etc.) in all aspects and right behind the numbers lie stereotypes that continue to feed the fire of these statistics.

Surely through this blog post I am not going to be able to change the stereotypes of Blacks in America. My expression of this topic in the Black community is to bring awareness to an issue that many people think is apart of Black culture. Through awareness comes knowledge and when you know better you do better. I had to take some time out to evaluate myself and where I stand in regards to perpetuating and fighting stereotypes. I realize the jokes aren't funny and it's time to check myself and check my peers in regards to how we talk about Blacks in America. I refuse to take aid in killing my own people, there are enough things killing us already.

*Updated November 18, 2009*