As an associate professor of psychology at Morehouse College, Dr. Bryant Marks has dedicated his career to studying the impact social messaging has on the psyche of young Black males.
Speaking at the H.I.S. BET Town Hall Meeting at Morehouse College in Atlanta on September 19, Dr. Marks shared some of his insights, as well as his prescription for changing the way Black men see themselves and are viewed by society.
“Society, in terms of its assessment of African American males, seems to be generalized, or stereotypical. [People] are not willing to be open to the diversity that exists within young Black males,” he asserted. “If they are exposed to images that are negative in nature…that tends to get cemented in their minds. When they meet the exception, or someone that doesn’t fit that stereotype, they don’t necessary believe it.”
Marks continued by talking about the role of the media in creating, and perpetuating those negative stereotypes. “The media is not designed to make Black people look good. It’s an economic endeavor. Their goal is to sell ads, make money, to entertain, and to a lesser extent, to inform,” he said. “We need to bombard people with counter-stereotypical information…that is in opposition to the stereotype. If the stereotype is that Black men are criminals and are up to no good, then larger society needs to see images of Black men up to doing good things, telling positive stories.”
He offered an example of a positive story: “At Morehouse College we graduate up to 500 Black males every year, several of them have perfect 4.0 GPAs. Where is that on the news? The point is, we need to offset every negative story with 3, 4, 5 positive stories.”
Continued Dr. Marks, “The challenge is, does positivity sell? Will corporations be willing to invest in the positive images of the Black male if they don’t see that it feeds the bottom line?”
(Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET)