There’s a lot of conversation these days about the negative effect mass media has on cultures around the world. Plenty of attention is given to how it affects females. Documentaries like Dark Girls and MissRepresentation show how we learn to discriminate against, deform body image and skin color, and stereotype women as the weaker sex who are simply sex objects. What’s not being heard as loudly is the harmful ways we portray boys and men.
Black or African-American men (along with Hispanic males) are generally portrayed as thugs, gangsters, and ignorant along with such aspiring careers as drug dealer, gang banger, rapper, or that token man of color who doesn’t say much, if given anything to say at all. While it’s obvious to most women that the barrage of unattainable body images encourages low self worth, it should be just as obvious that portraying men as bad will encourage bad self worth.
While there may not be famous documentary on this specific problem, small groups are stepping up to make change. I recently learned about the 1 Hood Media program from the Black Youth Project. 1 Hood Media mentors young men on how to analyze and change their portrayal in the media. Participants learn about defining themselves without media along with how they, and others, have already formed opinions of themselves based on media stereotypes. Through workshops they learn about public speaking, photo journalism, panel participation, consulting, conflict resolution, and arts administration. They are given mentoring along with the encouragement to use their voice for change.
The program succeeds because of mentors such as emcee and community activists Jasiri X, and Hip-Hop icon, writer, and photographer Paradise Gray, along with other amazing women and men.
Check out this video for more info, “Game Changers: The One Hood Media Academy” on YouTube.
If you know a young African American man between ages 13-19 who is currently enrolled in school near Pittsburgh share this program with them. They can learn more and apply for an upcoming course at onehood.org. The next step for the academy is a media education course designed for girls.
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