Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain.

This is a guest post by Laura Frohne.  It was originally published on the Open Society Foundations’ blog “Voices” on September 20, 2013.

How do we overcome preconceptions and anxiety about race?

“Part of understanding racial anxiety is simply naming it,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, executive director of the American Values Institute. “We have anxieties in all other parts of our daily lives: anxiety about flying, about driving, or going on job interviews.”

“We create stereotypes, quick references, to help us navigate the world,” she says. “One of those stereotypes is that we equate black men with fear.”

Once you identify your own racial preconceptions, Johnson says, “you can give yourself different guidance in how you want to treat the conversation, by recognizing that no one is in this conversation to call you racist. We’re just in this conversation to have a better dialog.”

Johnson and the American Values Institute work with the Open Society Campaign for Black Male Achievement to create opportunities for black men and boys who are significantly marginalized from U.S. economic, social, and political life.

Watch more of our conversation with Alexis McGill Johnson above.

“At Open Society” is a video series highlighting the people and ideas that are inspiring our work—and changing the world.

Learn More:  United States, Rights & Justice, Black Male Achievement, Discrimination, Rights & Justice in the United States


Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a philanthropy expert and consultant. If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2013.

2 responses to “Why Do People Stereotype Black Men? Ask Your Brain.

  1. Brilliant video – the world needs more of such clear, insightful and honest resources to help re-frame existing biases and to strengthen social cohesion

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