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FunTimes Magazine

The Evolution of Men's Mentality and Stereotypes Throughout The Decades

Nov 25, 2021 03:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian
a black and white photograph of a Black man with a serious expression with one elbow on the table

Mentality refers to one's level of intelligence, as well as the manner and structure of cognition. It is the norm by which people perceive their world and events, similar to world view. It frequently portrays the dynamism in a people's mannerisms, which constitute the foundation of their responses. A good mentality can lead to communal love and harmony, yet a damaged mentality might lead to specific stereotypes. Stereotypes are deeply embedded in the fabric of the United States, and they correspond with the system of slavery.  Stereotyping of African-Americans, particularly men, has had a negative influence on African-American families and communities throughout US history. Educators, business owners, and law enforcement officers frequently hold these prejudices, which determines how they treat African-Americans.  Stereotypes are problematic because they limit possibilities for particular groups. The prejudices that are propagated about African-American males frequently end in oppression, which is linked to poverty and a slew of other poor results.  African-American oppression is a crucial human rights problem that must be addressed in social work practice. In such an atmosphere, it is critical to comprehend the mentality of African American males, how stereotypes have influenced them for so long, and how to build mentality. 

Figure 1 - Message of Love for every man out there. Source - Pexel

Slavery's legacy has resulted in stereotypes of African-Americans in the United States. These deeply entrenched views are the result of White racial ideas that were put into action by coercive and discriminatory practices that glorified how slaves should think and behave. To justify their economic, social, and political dominance, many White slave owners established belief stereotypes. Slave owners' strong stereotyped ideas determined how African Americans were to be treated; never as individuals, but always collectively. As a result, the racist foundations on which laws and regulations were built reinforced public stereotypes of African Americans. Even after slavery was abolished, the rules for treating African Americans remained the same. These preconceptions, as well as the treatment of African American men, have existed throughout history. Systemic racism in schools, the workplace, and the judicial system fosters unfavorable preconceptions about African American males, resulting in fewer chances, inferior educational and job outcomes, and greater imprisonment rates.

According to studies, perceptions of African American men and boys and their interaction with the media demonstrated that the media over-represents Black males in images of violence, criminality, and poverty. Important aspects of Black men's lives, such as parenthood and jobs, are mostly disregarded. Inaccurate images can also have an impact on African American men's self-perceptions and contribute to low self-esteem. The difference in the United States is not only expanding due to ongoing racial injustice and social/economic inequities, but the demeaning image of Black males is profoundly troubling. A few recent examples are the deaths of unarmed Black individuals on suspicion of "criminality." This is where the importance of media gatekeeping and the social construction of Blackness in the representation of Black males comes into play. It is characterized as media gatekeepers' cognitive indoctrination of Blackness. Broadly defined, media gatekeeping is the process by which countless communications are reduced or winnowed down to a few messages for broadcast to a person or groups within a society. Active agents, in this instance media professionals, who are participating in the message selection process are also referred to as media gatekeepers. It is hardly surprising, however, that Black males occupy a "vast area" in the mind of American culture, although being only a small percentage of the total population. With such a "vast void" established in society's minds, it's difficult to understand why the challenges confronting Black males aren't being addressed, especially from a legislative aspect, as one would anticipate.

Figure 2 - Results of Stereotypes have led to many fatalities. Source - Pexel

The prevalent belief that the unconscious has a considerable impact on human conduct is a well-known truth. Earlier documentation supplied by Freud is still in use today. Individuals must begin the process of recodification of stereotypes that are directly related to the unconscious ideas associated with racial groupings, particularly African-American men, for society to progress beyond the subconscious or unawareness of implicit bias. In certain cases, cultural competency training has been beneficial in dispelling prejudices and reducing institutional racism. Although cultural sensitivity training alone will not address the more than 200 years of enslavement, persecution, marginalization, and unfairness that have played a significant role in traumatizing African-American males, it is the first step toward beginning the long-overdue process of reducing stereotypes while improving cultural sensitivity. Raising awareness of the detrimental effects of stereotypes on African-American males is an important first step in achieving social fairness. It is critical to practice from a social justice perspective to promote awareness of power and privilege, as well as to stimulate advocacy against institutional forces that violate human rights and perpetuate racism. Many African American males are afraid to seek medical care and mental health services, engage in school activities, or deal with police officers as a result of institutional racism. As a result, medical and mental health professionals, educators, business people, law enforcement, and politicians must realize their prejudices, which may be negatively impacting the services they deliver. Raising knowledge of how stereotypes influence decision-making is one effective strategy to overcome stereotypes. Many activities/exercises/surveys may be utilized to raise awareness regarding one's prejudices. Inquiring about racial attitudes, as well as the traits, beliefs, and perceptions of other ethnicities might assist detect a person's proclivity to respond with bias. People must be aware of when biassed reactions are likely to occur, as well as how to replace such biassed replies with responses that are more compatible with their beliefs.

Figure 3 - Men do Cry. Source - Pexel

Social workers are to advocate for social change on behalf of underprivileged groups, such as African American men. It is critical to raise society's understanding of the prejudices that influence educational attainment, hiring practices, and the persistent police violence against African American males. Social workers must also advocate for changes at the state and federal levels to require cultural competency training in all state and federal agencies to increase individuals' awareness and knowledge of other cultures, which improves their effectiveness in working with culturally diverse populations.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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