Does slavery still exist? One may say “No”, but what if I told you that a form of slavery carries on to this very day. What if I told you that black men are being objectified and exploited, would you believe me? Ask this question: Why is it that the most well-known black men in America are athletes, rappers, and fighters? I believe the reason for this is because the media still believes that black men are only good for their physical traits. Excluding rappers; Black athletes and fighters are endorsed not by how intelligent they are, but how they typically look. Lenon Honor in The Black Buck Program and objectification of Black Males Part 1, Media Manipulation, wondered how the image of the athlete above subliminally represents a long standing racial stereotype that suggests that Black males are sexual predators or sexual beasts. For years now, black males have been attached to this stereotype. Books and movies like Mandingo by Kyle Onstott, Beauty Beast by Mackinlay Kantor, and the movie King Kong have endorsed this stereotype. One may ask, “Why is this stereotype attached to black men? Where did it come from?”
In National Public Radio (NPR) in 2007, a conversation between Herbert Samuels, a sex educator and professor at LaGuardia Community College in New York, and Mireille Miller-Young, a women’s studies professor at UC Santa Barbara about Sex Stereotypes of African Americans have long History spoke about the role black men and women have played in the American sexual imagination. Professor Samuels mentioned that in the mid-1500s black men and women were considered to be animalistic in their sexual desires. So it makes sense that in the article, Sexual Relations between White Women and Enslaved Black Men in the Antebellum South by J.M. Allain, why white women provoked black male slaves to have sex with them. According to the article, a white woman would use her Jezebelic trait to command a black male slave to sleep with her because she wasn’t getting enough attention from her husband. For the black male slave it was bad because if he didn’t comply, there was a possibility that she would of lied and said, “He tried to rape me” to her husband and the result of that would have been to kill the slave. White women at that time were considered to be pure, but in reality they were the animals in their sexual desire along with their counterparts, which were their husbands.
Today, many stereotypes have been originated by the perception that black males are sexual creatures. A familiar stereotype is “Once you go black, you never go back”. This Stereotype is very popular today and it is addressed towards white women and Hispanic women for sex. This stereotype gives the impression that black men have a big penis and are very good at sex. One would think that this would only help black men when it came to dating outside of their race, but it hasn’t. The typical black male may be content with this stereotype, but it’s safe to say that it has caused more harm than good to black males. By accepting this stereotype, black men are giving the media as well as white women leeway to find ways to ruin them. Brothers on Sports and Society (BOSS) had the privilege of speaking to a criminologist, Dr. Chenelle Jones, and she explained why 90 percent of black men are falsely accused of rape by white women. Dr. Jones states that it is easier to use a black man as a scapegoat for crimes. As a result, the perception that black men are sexual has been used as excuses to place black men in jail or to put black men to death. People like Darryl Hunt, a black man who was falsely accused for raping and killing a white woman spent 20 years in jail before being proven innocent (The Trials of Darryl Hunt Film), Emment Till, a 14 year old black boy who was killed for “flirting” with a white girl (The Murder of Emmett Till Film), and many more with similar stories that involve false accusations with a white woman were victims because of this idiotic perception/stereotype that derived from Slavery.
As this perception/stereotype still lingers in our society, it’s difficult to figure out a solution to solve it because perceptions are beliefs. I believe that the only way to stop this perception or any other perception that gives the impression that a group of people are something when they are not is for those people to change their way of thinking and what’s in their heart. It’s sad because society revolves around stereotypes. As a result, people make judgments and assumptions without any real truth about a person or a particular group. Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller said it the best, “You can never tell a book by its cover”. So next time “you” see a black man with muscles please don’t think that he’s a sexual creature yearning for sexual pleasure because everyone has sex, so it doesn’t make sense for this stereotype to exist.
By Bernensky Pierre