Stereotypes Black People Uphold

January 19, 2012  |  
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Everyone agrees that stereotypes are wrong but there are a few floating around that most black people don’t take much offense to. In fact, some stereotypes are more a badge of honor for black culture than racial bigotry.

Not only are many black people proud to proclaim these commonly held notions, but if a white person affirms her belief in this lore, you’ll pat her on the back for finally getting it right, thinking “now that’s a cool white person.”

And here they are, black people’s favorite stereotypes:

Black people have rhythm

If you’re shaking your head to this one, you, like many others, have been conditioned to believe (and be proud of) that black people have a gene that syncs with a beat, causing his or her beautiful brown body to erupt in harmonious motion.

But if you’re one of the many black people who can’t cut a rug, you hate this stereotype more than “all black people like chicken” because you can’t dance and you do like chicken. Everyone likes chicken.

Black men are hung

Just because every adult film you’ve ever watched confirms this, it doesn’t make it true. That makes it good casting. This stereotype is most debilitating to the black men out there who just aren’t packing.

He knows this statement is as biased as the percentage of black men in prison. But sure enough, every time he drops his pants, a lady expects a Navigator, or at least a 300M.

Black people are hip

Yes, black culture is very distinct, but only when compared to something “other.” Yes, that culture is generalized through Hip Hop, exported, and yeah, the world loves it. But that doesn’t mean that every black person is hip or down with “it.” Black people are as diverse as any other group. We are goofy, geeks, nerds, and awkward as well.

While seemingly benign, stereotypes like this have as many black people trying to be “down” as other groups. Being black is more than wearing Tims and fitted hats. It’s more than knowing lyrics to certain songs or having a sense of style.

Black people smoke marijuana or at least know where to get it.

When did cannabis become the official sponsor of high black people? You look at all the footage from the hippie era, where it’s a fact that all of those people are high on marijuana plus other narcotics and the majority of them are white. How it became acceptable to equate a black man with “he probably has, or knows where to get weed” is beyond me.

Among other reasons, this stereotype is a problem because there are a lot of legitimate uses for cannabis but the people who want and need it are wasting countless hours approaching black people who don’t even smoke.

Black people are tough.

The notion that you’re not to be messed with, because you’re from the streets, and “grew up in hell, homie”, can certainly be an asset depending on where you are. But it really does depend on where you are. Thanks to stereotypical media and films, many are wary of black people, even frightened. This works in a black persons favor, like at a crowded bar when you don’t want to wait for a drink or when pulling into the last parking spot at the same time as someone else.

But tread lightly using this to your advantage.  Even if you did grow up in the hood, it doesn’t mean that you can go toe to toe with any stranger. Lots of black people get beat up or worse for believing their own hype.

Black people can’t be racist

Classical racism has underpinnings in cultural ignorance. That makes many black people, some who I call family or friend, among the most nonchalantly racist people you’ll ever talk to. When someone says, “black people can’t be racist,” what she means is that here in America, a black person’s cultural ignorance offers no benefit, as compared to a racist white person. And that’s just not fair.

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