Have you ever Googled yourself and clicked on the images tab? What if you google something you like or want to know more about, click on the images tab and all that comes up are negative images of that topic?
Today I was researching online for photos of black teen males, looking for a great group shot. After going through hundreds that were either not relevant or really negative, I finally found one that had the message or appearance of what I was expecting to find. One.
What if you were a young black male and wanted to see what other teens are doing for fun or what Google thought of you and all you see are photos of male minorities in the courtroom, mug shots, beat up faces, steroids or other drug photos. Would you be confused? Would you think you mistyped your search when you saw most images of white males or women happy, educational or stylish?
I find this infuriating, and it made me sad. If you were a 16-year-old black male doing a Google search for "black teen male" and this is all it showed via images based on tagged words, you could get discouraged and frustrated and depending on the kind of support you had, you would probably say, "Eff it, doesn't matter what I do!"
Fact remains, we have to do better. Images speak a thousand words. We know this from experience. When we see something, we tend to believe it. It seeps into our subconscious as a point of reference, and if we see similar images over time it becomes our knowledge about that piece of information. In this case, these images, courtrooms, mug shots, beaten up faces and drugs can be the false imagery that slowly, but surely turns into truth when they see black teen males. That then translates into much of society acting in fear of or rejecting black teen males in their stores, jobs or neighborhoods.
This is exactly why I Am Just Like U is here to stay. We are working everyday, to ensure there is a different image being put out there for young black males.
It is not enough to just have a program for a few kids after school. It is not enough to have a mentor that supports you. It is not enough to have a teacher that understands you. All of that is great and helpful, but it is time for a nationwide campaign that changes the images we "normally" see with black teen males and show images we know to be true and that we can get behind.
Yes, there are statistics that say black fathers are the least involved. Yes, there are many minorities in prison, but it isn't because they are black. Being black does not make you inherently bad. That speaks to the economic system, the education system and the judicial system. All of which are run by people. People who make policy and laws based on what they think is true. What if we can change that by flipping the perception?
One stat that we like to share on this topic is:
Total number of black men (18-24) in prison or jail: 164,000
Total number of black men (18-24) in college: 674,000
-- 10daysof blacktruths
We cannot stand by and let society paint an unrealistic picture for an entire community of people.
We are asking you to join in the uplift of humanity on a macro level.
If you have a diverse group of friends, please consider sharing the stories of those black male friends. Please consider helping us shift racism that is subtle and yet blatant. Please share our images that we have taken of fathers, community members, students, innovators and the list goes on.
We are only just beginning with our stories because there are countless ones to tell.
We have to do better for our younger generation. We have to do better for us, because when you empower and educate one student a ripple affect will occur in his community which in turn supports our entire country and economic system.
Please join us in shifting the perception of young black males.
Join the I Am Just Like U Family.