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Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain

Alexis McGill Johnson
2:04

How do we overcome preconceptions and anxiety about race?

“Part of understanding racial anxiety is simply naming it,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, executive director of the American Values Institute. “We have anxieties in all other parts of our daily lives: anxiety about flying, about driving, or going on job interviews.”

“We create stereotypes, quick references, to help us navigate the world,” she says. “One of those stereotypes is that we equate black men with fear.”

Once you identify your own racial preconceptions, Johnson says, “you can give yourself different guidance in how you want to treat the conversation, by recognizing that no one is in this conversation to call you racist. We’re just in this conversation to have a better dialog.”

Johnson and the American Values Institute work with the Open Society Campaign for Black Male Achievement to create opportunities for black men and boys who are significantly marginalized from U.S. economic, social, and political life.

Watch more of our conversation with Alexis McGill Johnson above.

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