Transforming Perception: Black Men and Boys

Mar 6, 2013
While there has been progress in the U.S. in terms of racial attitudes and opportunities, black men and boys continue to face challenges. This report presents original research, along with current studies in social psychology and neuroscience, offering an empirically grounded analysis of how emotions and fears about race shape behaviors and biases.
  • Modern bias against black men and boys tends to be unconscious ("implicit bias") but has been demonstrated in studies measuring physiological responses to images of black males.
  • Implicit bias is a result of unconscious association of negative stereotypes, positive preference for another group (in-group bias), and dehumanizing black males.
  • Studies show that both black people and white people experience racial anxiety. Black men and boys experience the anxiety that they will be the subject of discrimination and hostile or distant treatment; white people experience the mirror anxiety that they will be assumed to be racist and therefore will be met with distrust or hostility.
  • A change in the cultural context, particularly developing a more accurate portrayal of black males in the visual culture and challenging the caricatures, is needed.