We live in a society in which reality TV and drama are prevalent. In addition to that, sports reign supreme and almost every household in America. During my tenure in “Corporate America,” I often found myself working on the outskirts of the city of Milwaukee in suburban areas. It was also very often that I was, if not the only, I was one of the few African American people that worked for the agency in which I was employed. There were many times that new employees would come to the companies that I work for and they were new to the city. I’ve heard countless conversations amongst former employees when one person asks for advice as far as where they could find a decent place to live. Those conversations became less audible if I was nearby. They became less audible because the person who was a resident in Wisconsin would tell the new employee that they must avoid Milwaukee at all costs. Later on in different conversations that same employee / colleague would be very surprised when I told them where I live. They were surprised when I tell them where I come from. I then began to ask myself why is it acceptable to root for the success of an African American male if he’s wearing sports uniform but not so much if he isn’t and he happens to come from an impoverished area. I also had the revelation that I was the “exception” to their norm. The perception is that African American men are socially accepted in certain instances and they are dangerous and others. That perception is very faulty.
In coming across this article written by Derrick Z. Jackson, he lists several facts that debunk the perception of the African American man. His points are made eloquently and the research he provides from The United States Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provide information that is often not shared. A few that stuck out are:
■ There are 59% more black men in postsecondary education than jail.
■ Black fathers ages 15 to 44 had the highest rates of helping children with homework and taking them to and from activities of any race.
■ 6 out of 10 black young adults 25 to 29 (compared to 18 percent in 1971) have at least some college — the same ratio as the national average.
Perception is not always reality and I encourage people from all walks of life to do a little fact finding before forming an opinion.
Full article by Derrick Z. Jackson can be found here.