We’re constantly bombarded with negative statistics about Black men in the United States ranging from incarceration rates to economic status. The images and reports are on mainstream media as well as social media. To be fair there are positive stories about Black Men in the media. Unfortunately those stories usually have to do with sports and entertainment figures with a sprinkling of reports of smart Black men getting Ivy League scholarships. We will hear more negative than positive. What we don’t hear as much is the consequences of this negative media imagery. Many Black men are struggling with low self-esteem.
Many Black men suffer with low self-esteem. Many are suffering from a poor sense of who they are as men. Even though I touched upon how the media plays a part in this phenomenon the media is not the only culprit.
First, Black men in the United States live in a society which holds the white man up as the ideal male. Makes sense since white males are the dominant group in America. Any cultural group will hold its own up as ideal. So Black Men may suffer because their image as not held up as ideal except as athletes and maybe sex studs. Only problem is that every Black men is not a jock or a hunk. Even within the Black community the men with superior bodies seem to be celebrated more. This leads to other issues.
White society not holding Black men in high esteem wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Black women didn’t do the same thing. Many Black men have low self-esteem because of rejection from Black women. Often the rejection is the result of not being one of the more acceptable images such as a jock, stud, or whatever fad image is in season (light skin, dark skin, thug, etc.).
The constant rejection takes a toll on the psyches of many Black men. The bad part is that when many Black men act out or even speak up about how they are feeling they are told to “man up” and “stop whining.” So many Black men will indeed “man up” and “stop whining.” That doesn’t make the problem go away.
Black men are notorious for not seeking out assistance with mental health issues. I guess so when they may be called weak for doing so. The problem is that those issues do not go away. A man may try to bury those issues but that’s impossible. Nothing goes away unless addressed. Those issues manifest as unproductive behavior which will definitely harm the Black man harboring low self-esteem. It can also cause harm to the people around that Black man.
In order to address the issue of low self-esteem we need to deal with the causes of the problem. Telling someone to man-up is a bandage. We have to get to the root of the problem. The media is a good place to start. Yes there are some Black men doing some bad things. Yes Black men are doing poorly in many statistical categories. The issue is not so much that these things shouldn’t be addressed. They must be discussed. The media must balance things out. We need to talk about the Black men who are doing great things outside of sports and entertainment. We need to show Black boys that they can be celebrated outside of being an entertainer.
An even greater method to raise the self-esteem of Black men has nothing to do with the media. The Black community in general needs to celebrate the accomplishments of Black men outside of sports and coming home from prison. We need to celebrate the boys who get good grades. We need to celebrate the ones who come up with business ideas. We have to expand our idea of who we are.
We need to celebrate the gifts of all Black men. Until we do there will be millions of Black men who suffer with low self-esteem.
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