Stereotypes and stigmas are pervasive in many countries, including the U.S. The expected behaviors of black men are often fueled by these stereotypes, making it more difficult for black men to achieve success in education and the job market.

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Throughout history, the stigmatizing of the black community, particularly men, has led to discrimination and deeply hurt black families. To fight racism, we must be aware of these stereotypes and how they harm American society as a whole. Here is a list of ten stigmas black men regularly face. A lot of these stereotypes have been portrayed by commercial media and news outlets. Since the inception of social media and many other options for people to get news, it has helped tremendously with the black male image.

1. Poverty 

Black men are disproportionately represented in media stories about unemployment and poverty. These images depict black men and women living in poor, urban areas rather than middle-class suburbs or more affluent communities.

These media stories portraying black men as living in poverty reinforce stereotypes and make it hard for the general public to identify with black males. Poverty is often depicted as a black family headed by an unemployed black male or a single mother struggling to make ends meet. While these images do not portray the reality of poverty in America, they dominate the media. 

2. Welfare Recipients

Another stereotype that permeates the media is a black man or woman who lives on public welfare, defrauding American taxpayers while remaining idle at home. While many people on welfare are blamed for their disadvantaged position, black men and women are portrayed more negatively.

Studies have continually proven that the media overestimates the number of black men living in poverty and receiving welfare. These miscalculations perpetuate the image of the idle black male sitting on the street corner, making it more difficult for those seeking legitimate employment and training opportunities

3. Drug Dealers and Users

Experts agree that the media perpetuates stereotypes of black men as drug dealers and users. Statistics show that black men are more likely than white men to be portrayed in drug stories in the network news.

These stigmas started in the 1980s and the 1990s. During this time, black men were described as drug dealers, crack victims and impoverished drug users. There is no correlation between these images and accurate data, and these images are harmful. 

4. Athletes

Black men are often stigmatized as being more athletic than people of other races. While there is some validity to this stereotype, the image it perpetuates can be harmful. While black people make up only about 13% of the population, approximately 75% of professional basketball players and 65% of professional football players are black.

The athlete stereotype may spread the negative image of blacks getting into college solely based on their sports ability and not on their academic merit. The stereotype can also harm black children as they are told that playing sports is the only way they can succeed in life. 

5. Criminals

The association between black males and the prison population or criminality is one of the most pervasive stigmas in the media. Black men are often disproportionally portrayed in films and television shows as criminals or prison inmates.

Unfortunately, individuals in society, including law enforcement officers, accept these stereotypes, and these beliefs influence how they treat black men and women. These stigmas often make it difficult for black men to receive equal treatment during the legal process.

6. Aggressive

Black men are overrepresented as aggressors and people of other races are underrepresented. White females are often portrayed as the victims of black males. Music videos and other entertainment forms may be showing untrue stereotypes of aggressive black men and mistreated white women.

These stigmas are harmful to children as it gives them unrealistic expectations regarding conflict resolution and intimate relationships. This stigma also makes individuals of other races unduly afraid of black men, leading to inappropriate treatment of black males in public.

7. Thugs/N Words

Many films and television shows portray black men as drug dealers, criminals, and con artists. These films often provide no social background and do not provide enough information on why black men are being portrayed in such a manner.

The depiction of black men as thugs fuels the stigma that black men are more aggressive and more likely to participate in illegal activities. This stigma can also influence the behavior of young black men, causing them to exhibit behaviors they see in the media. 

8. Absentee Fathers

Black men are often portrayed in the media as absent fathers. Black women are often depicted as single mothers with a bevy of children fathered by different men.

These stereotypes are not based on facts and may provide an unrealistic expectation that black women are prepared or able to handle parenthood alone. This stigma can also negatively impact the behavior of young black men, causing them to abandon their childcare responsibilities. 
The absent father stereotype is particularly harmful because it impacts future generations. Single motherhood is becoming normalized, and young men are being taught that being a good father is not important. 

9. Hip-Hop Culture

While there is a high percentage of black males in the hip hop industry, they are often overrepresented in media depictions of hip hop culture. This portrayal is ingrained in young people’s minds, which signals to them that the only chance they have to make money or be successful is as a rapper or hip hop artist. 

10. Uneducated

Black men are disproportionally portrayed in the media as uneducated. These stigmas are not only factually inaccurate, but they can also make it harder for the black community to attain educational achievement. Teachers and academic administrators may treat black students differently due to these stereotypes, making it harder for them to succeed in and out of the classroom. 

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There are several stereotypes regarding black men that are portrayed in television, movies, literature and the media. Most of these stigmas are not based on reality and make it difficult for black men to experience equality in the workplace, education, and society.

Most of these stigmas are negative and fuel unhealthy stereotypes about the black community. If you want to view other information pertinent to the black community, visit We have lists on a number of topics of interest to the black community, including money, music and politics