Healthy relationships are highly strived for but are simultaneously hard to come by. Find someone, build with them and then settle down. It sounds easy but the time intervals between each step and the plethora of factors that disrupt what seems to be such a simple equation has proven itself to be more difficult than assumed.
Amongst the pile of possibilities that make it difficult to obtain one of the most sought out things of our generation, of our life, there is one that has been vaguely explored and maybe not even thought of. What if there were cultural impositions that made building a romantic connection even more difficult based on the color of your skin and the culture you’ve derived from? Even made more difficult based on the stereotypes placed upon you built on those key factors.
A stereotype is defined as a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
Although proven to be mostly based on false accusations and damn near no evidence what so ever, stereotypes have the ability to keep the group that they are placed on in a stagnant position of opinions from outside groups from sources like the media, while also having the ability to alter how the group being stereotyped sees their own selves. Typical stereotypes placed on the black man stem from as far as slavery. However, there have been many stereotypes created in more recent years as well. Huge contributors to the black man’s image have also stemmed from past and current forms of oppression.
Turn on your television and there is a high probability that the criminal on the TV show that you’re watching is a black man or you’ll see the news reporting more black crimes in more black areas than any other. Neglecting the images of actual men of minority striving and doing well for themselves and their community. It has been proven that watching television may cause viewers to conceive, alter, or even reinforce their beliefs and opinions about society. These images carry with them messages that sometimes modify or exaggerate reality and create beliefs that can have a huge impact on the way people view the world and those within it.
It has become obvious that the negative stereotyping of black men is pervasive and can impact building and maintaining relationships as well as personal satisfaction and professional achievement. In addition, these experiences are stressful, and these men being portrayed employ a variety of mechanisms to cope. Men oppressed by society and stereotypes overwhelmed by economic oppression may revert to the stereotypes held against them and may believe them to be true.
“They become self-fulfilling prophecies and some expect to fail and exhibit criminal behaviors. Perceiving themselves as dangerous, they attack other African Americans at amazingly high rates.” – Micah L. McCreary & Richard C. Wright
These findings do not intend to generalize across all black men. Rather, they intend to provide a deeper understanding of the men victim to such criticism. However, these factors are not the only contributors to the withstanding views on black men. A lot of it has to do with the internalization of such stereotyping stemming from way back when.
In their characterization of black men during and shortly after the time of slavery, white society depicted black men as not human and needing punishment and domination. Controlling black people also meant excluding them from educational, economic, relational, and parental opportunities. White men made black men look like sex-crazed thugs and expected these men to act accordingly. This type of vulgarity, although not true, may be a vital source as to why there are so many unsuccessful romantic black relationships.
There is no sure way to contribute these ideas to the outcomes of the relationships between black women and men but there is evidence of how such variables can effect the level of black men’s possible apprehensiveness to the idea of forming and maintaining relationships with women of their race and the longevity and maintenance of relationships between the two.
“African American men often relate to African American women in the same hierarchical, dictatorial and oppressive fashions that have resulted in their own disenfranchisement.” – Micah L. McCreary & Richard C. Wright
Men who are affected by such oppression have the tendency to draw back to the stereotype of the black man as a great lover and womanizer and are likely to objectify and oppress women, especially of their own race. Many black men have internalized these negative stereotypes and unknowingly or unconsciously revert to the system lauded against them without carefully examining the effects it has on themselves or the women with whom they are in relationships with.
According to a 2013 article from the National Review, nearly 72.2% of blacks children are born out of wedlock.
In 2013, Don Lemon of CNN reported that the rate of African American children living in single-parent homes is almost as high as the rate of non-marital births.
According to BlackDemographics.com, in 2014 only 29% of African Americans were married compared to 48% of all Americans. Half or 50% of African Americans have never been married compared to 33% of all Americans. In addition, 48% of black women had never been married.
At this juncture, black issues amongst women and men interface and it becomes clear that the dilemmas of black men really essentially are the dilemmas of black women as well.
Another way that negative stereotypes influence black couples is through their effects on relationship trust. Trust is thought to be essential to any viable relationship, whether romantic or platonic. With the idea of trust, parties must be willing to risk strong emotional involvement and holding general expectations that the other party will be honest.
“African American couples appear to be particularly vulnerable to problems in this area, largely because of external stressors.” – Patricia Bathea
Because of their minority status, African Americans are subjected to hostile governmental and societal practices, policies, and attitudes. The questionable treatment of black people has contributed to a large percentage of the community to face poverty, health problems, crime, and drug abuse. These products of stereotyping, as well as racism, has resulted in the common feeling of inferiority, which in turn has caused a rage that is unsafe to vent toward white or mainstream society, and in the end that rage is displaced toward each other, leading to mutual mistrust and disrespect amongst black people and their relationships. Many men are still secluded to the mindset forced upon them and are unable to break the barriers that society has put them behind. Many of them don’t even know it.
But after more than 250 black people being killed by the police in 2016, many of them being unjustifiable murders, the black community is more WOKE than ever and realizes just how important it is to support the community amongst us. And how ironic is it that media, once there to mainly broadcast the wrongful stereotypes of black people, is now the eye that sees and shows the world the horrible acts against black people and how stereotyping contributes to such.
This is no pity party and this article does not intend to make the false accusation of blacks being the only race to face stereotypes or to be affected greatly by them. This also does not intend to imply that their are no successful black relationships because that it simply untrue. It is simply a study magnifying one group and how they and their relationships are effected by stereotypes. Black people of this generation are now noticing more than ever, that there is a some sort of machine working to break us down but still we manage to stand up tall and stand tall together.
Oh how history repeats itself.
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