Symbols can be spontaneous, represent our values and express our innermost feelings. So is it safe to say African-Americans flaunting materialism, overly exposed bodies and flashy cars represent their reality?
Perceptions about what represents a group of people don’t start in the real world. It starts with perceptions of what is advertised in the media.
Media plays a huge role in what African-American communities across the country value in their lives. The majority of Florida A&M students belong to the African-American community and some are familiar with the minstrels of the early 20th century that negatively depicted the black image.
Many students have strong opinions about what aspects of today’s media negatively portray African-Americans.
Some students believe that urban materialism is beginning to represent African-Americans.
“I see gold chains and baggy pants that sag below the waist on boys around campus all the time,” said Janee Barton, a second-year physical therapy student from Miami. “I think this clothing style has a negative message because of how the media portrays young black men that wear this.”
It’s true there’s an excessive amount of young men who wear sagging clothes, and this urban style carries negative connotations.
However, there are students who feel there’s no way to generalize African-Americans.
“Naturally, African-Americans glorify an urban look that associates money and fills voids because of insecurities, but that is a human characteristic,” said Jared Johnson, a fourth-year music education student from Fayetteville, N.C. “Not every African-American is the same just because they are of the same ethnicity group.”
Trends within African-Americans are not uniform to the entire race.
“It is impossible to generalize all African-Americans by one characteristic when there are so many things [in] society that separate African-Americans, such as social class, religion and sexual orientation,” said Brandon Smith, a second-year political science student from Atlanta.
What a person sees in the world is what they perceive as reality. When a person’s worldly perspective is limited due to a lack of exposure to different environments, how broad can that person’s reality actually be?
Most African-Americans have watched various media stereotype the way they live. This is not to say they don’t hold any truth, but not recognizing the different aspects of African-American culture is the fallacy that perpetuates the confusion of African-American culture.