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Op Ed: New Perception of Black Males Required

Guest Editorial By S. A. Miller (Soul Perspectives)

Fact:  Black Males are perceived as “less than” in the United States of America.  It is this perception that needs to change before Black males are given the same considerations that all other Americans  receive in this society.

Perception is defined as an “active process of gathering sensory information and assigning meaning to it”.  We take what we see and assign meaning to it.  It is something we all do for all people we meet in an attempt to understand who they might be.  Our perceptions are based on our experiences and knowledge bases commonly called perceptual schema.  What happens when someone engages a Black Male they may not know, they begin searching their knowledge bases trying to get an understanding of who this person might be.  What should be clearly understood is that whatever interpretation a person comes up with may be 100%, absolutely WRONG, and thus, our behavior towards Black Males may be based totally on misperceptions.

This is a problem with American society as a whole.  Beginning in the days of servitude, society -at- large, demonized Black Males.  They were whipped and beaten for “talking back”.  They were chased and captured by Slave Patrols then hung as “examples.”  They were beaten and thrown in rivers for daring to engage a woman.  These examples, and thousands more are all based on a perception that if your skin is Black, and you are male, then you aren’t entitled  to be treated with basic human dignity.

So how do we fix the problem?  You have to CHANGE your personal perceptions of Black Males.  Consider this example:  Two males, wearing white lab coats and stethoscopes, are walking down the hall of a hospital.  You assume that they are both doctors.  One is Black, the other one is not.  What are your immediate thoughts about each male?  Based on nothing more than the color of the Black Males skin, what do you think?  Do you assume the Black doctor is less qualified?  Are you less trusting of the Black doctor?  Do you consider that the Black male may not even be a doctor?  It is this misplaced, yet simplistic thinking that creates so much stress and strain in this society, and keeps us from engaging openly with each other.

If we are going to be a civilized society where all people, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity are afforded the same rights and liberties, then the only way that happens is if there is an intentional and deliberate choice to change your perceptions of Black Males.  Be open and honest with yourself.  What are your biases; yours fears; your prejudices?  If you want justice and fairness for Black Males, you will have to change how you see Black Males.  Realize that every Black Male you engage is not a threat, but more than likely, someone who has goals and aspirations just like you.  As long as this U.S. American society perceives Black Males as “less than”, nothing will change.  Nothing will get better.

In the words of the En Vogue song, Free Your Mind, “Before you can read me, you got to learn how to see me.”

Soul Perspectives is written by S. A. Miller, a movie producer, director, author, and educator who has been writing commentary on Social, Economic, Educational, and Political topics for over forty years.



Last updated on February 10, 2023

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