Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain

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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Thank you for looking into this topic. I live outside the US and see so many examples of hidden racism. It is hard not to get discouraged.

dialog - what a fantastic solution! I'm in!

As an Aboriginal person from Canada, I found the information in this tape very helpful in trying to find the words that I haven't been able to find about the inner processes of racism...which we all need to recognize in ourselves.

Keep up the great work

They see the colour of my skin before the see me, perceptions are based on fear and thus I am judged before I have had a chance.

i know. i agree. they see my white skin color and automatically assume ive been given everything. even though i had to work harder because no programs have been invented to help me. its really a drag, but im white. i overcome. not through prison, through brain power

There have been no programs "invented" to help us, either. And not every black person overcomes through prison, there are more than PLENTY of blacks who overcame through brain power.

You are privileged Frank, white privileged. You don't have to wonder why people are giving you a dirty look in: convenience stores, police patrol vehicles, or schools. You don't have to worry about "stereotype threat" like Dr. MLK did while in college. You've got it made Frank, you've got it made!

race issue in the world is all about trust. thanks for your help to the black race

You state the problem very well. Over coming the problem is another issue when you are dealing with real life experiences. Over my life I have had black males.... Hold a gun to my head, scream at me with hatred, chase me and my wife on city streets, accuse me of being racist when i was not, drop me as a friend only because i was white. So while my brain says these are isolated instances..underneath that is fear that I will always carry

I am a Ugandan-born British citizen. I find black-on-black tribal anxiety so in tense that white vs black anxiety pales into insignificance as the genocidal wars in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia graphically demonstrate. We need to encourage dialogue among black Africans too if the continent is to achieve lasting peace and sustainable development.

My sincere support is always with them, those who are raised their voice against racial discrimination, creates additional anxiety.Racism free society will be highly appreciated.

I am original from Somalia but Lived in London for 20 yrs and I am planning to go back to Somalia Next Year inshaallah.

I agree with Sam that Africa need dialogue among A/C and as they say "You can't teach old dog new tricks." i think we the New Generation need to change these old say and we can teach new trick to the African Countries. I believe if there is a will there is a way.

Thank you so much for talking about this subject. I am a very very very handsome " according to what people say" talented black male and been exposed to this illusion for almost 10 years without a girlfriend. All I do is focus on career and my personal life. In my town even some of the sisters do believe in this type of illusion. My question to people with prejudice mentality is to question their faith and ask God, why is there a variety of different things? I wish they live in a world where everything looks the same. The same in every little thing the have. What a boring life that would be.

I found sisters In the US the type that really fits my criteria in everyway. One day I will marry one of those sisters

Noticing reality and statistics is racist.

To Quote the Washington Post Writer Capehart, a black man:

"In short, 95.1 percent of all murder victims and 95.9 percent of all shooting victims in New York City are black or Hispanic. And 90.2 percent of those arrested for murder and 96.7 percent of those arrested for shooting someone are black and Hispanic. I don’t even know where to begin to describe the horror I still feel looking at those numbers. But the word ‘hunted’ comes to mind."

People think criminal when they see black because a tiny proportion (2%) of the population (young black males) commits a vast percentage of crime.


Lt. Greyman, 1st Bell Brigade, NVA

My fear is due to published crime statistics

fear is understandable but if you look at where these crimes are committed it is in areas of poverty. now if we took a step back and empathized a little with people maybe we could understand why they do the things they do. no matter right or wrong i feel a lot of problems could be solved if we were empathetic to one another.

@capewell fear is understandable but if you look at where these crimes are committed it is in areas of poverty. now if we took a step back and empathized a little with people maybe we could understand why they do the things they do. no matter right or wrong i feel a lot of problems could be solved if we were empathetic to one another.

People are just steoreotypical in nature and it comes from association. What do I mean, the way you were raised.

Additionally, the government and the media is by far a large contributor to this so vast problem. It's a world problem and we each contribute to it. You, me, your family, and friends.

So, you have never steoreotyped anything or anyone?

I am impressed by Alexis McGill Johnson and the
American Values Institute and the Campaign for
Black Male Achievement and Shawn Dove! I wrote a book on Racism and the steps we need to take to
eliminate Racism. I want to join the Open Society Foundation! Carl Banks Jr., Vietnam Veteran

Keep fighting for true justice!

I want for my life to be changed

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