Effect of Negative Racial Stereotype of African Americans

Categories: Diversity

Stereotypes are characteristics imposed upon groups of people because of their race, nationality, and sexual orientation. These characteristics tend to be generalizations of the groups involved, and while some people truly do embody the traits of their stereotype, they are not necessarily representative of all people within that group. Stereotypes are a big problem in our society, this creates a distortion of how every person should be and ultimately creates a wall of separation between communities. Stereotypes creates misinterpretation, hatred and hostility towards different communities living in the same surrounding.

Stereotypes are an in-built feature of American society and an integral part of our socialization process, spreading a patchwork of traditionally inaccurate images from one generation to another. In “Racism is poisoning our society” the author said- “Unfair racial stereotypes have taken root in the hearts of people” (Watkins, 3). As a result, we are reacting differently with different people —in supermarkets, on the streets, in meetings between police and citizens, in educational institutions and so on.

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They even affect the way we describe ferocity and destruction of property. When a young white man indulge himself in criminal activities like murder, robbery, and aggravated assault, and even battles police are “partygoers,” “out of control fans.” But a group of mostly African American youth who do similar things out of sorrow and rage or whatever reasons are dangerous “thugs” for the society. The difference in the two descriptions is telling how stereotyping is creating a barrier between communities where white young people are considered as “got a little out of hand”, can be modified and forgiven but black young people are “Dangerous thugs” and present a much more ominous threat to the society.

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Racism is intricate, and has a discrete aspect of prejudice. It has now interlaced into our systems and institutions like poisonous threads, hurting us all. When our election laws and protocols start again to systematically make it tougher for African Americans to vote, when some people are protected and defended by police force less than others and are not held accountable, when schools and jobs are of poor quality in places where people of color live, and when white people don’t even know this or literally they doesn’t care, then we have a system that spreads racism whether the people in it mean to be discriminatory or not. And this occurs as a result of stereotyping a particular community and thus creating a wall of separation. According to “The Nature and Problem of Stereotypes”- “The most insidious aspect of stereotypes is that they weaken our ability to think critically and serve as a major source of disinformation about others, especially women and minorities.” (Wei, 1). Instead of challenging the stereotypes that we encounter in our daily lives, we accept them as representing reality and erroneously equate them with valid generalizations based on accurate data about a group of people. In actuality, they are nothing more than standardized mental pictures reflecting an oversimplified opinion and have little or no ascertainable basis in fact. They project unidimensional caricatures, masking the diversity that is an inherent feature of every group of people.

The term “thug” has become a way to label Black males over past few years who discard or do not rise to the level or standard of White America. For example, NFL football player Richard Sherman was called a “thug” for his post-game interview following the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game, his bodily presence and loud voice was used to induce the impression of “thuggery.” He didn’t use any ill-mannered or impolite language neither expressed any feelings of violence or criminal activities. Moreover, political opponents of President Obama have also referred to him as a “political thug.” This term has become a level to stereotype and terminate Black life as less valued and disseminates a negative and criminal implication in forms of micro-insults and micro-nullifications. Furthermore, the recent killings of unarmed Black men have triggered discussion surrounding the term “thug” and how it is used in the framework of reforming insights of Black life roughly and Black males specifically. Why putting labels like this? Instead of labeling or stereotyping a whole community based on certain activities undertaken by some of them we should label each and every individual as human being. Which is our real identity.

When white police officers shot and kill young, black teenaged men and generate extremely intense social commentary about racial discrimination in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, it means we haven’t solved the problem yet. When a mentally unstable, young white man kills nine black worshippers after an hour of sitting silently in a historic, black church throughout a Bible study in order to start a race conflict, it’s more than just an isolated event. According to “Does Race Matter in Neighborhood Preferences?”- “Whites who endorse negative racial stereotypes about black’s desire fewer African Americans in their neighborhoods than those who reject these stereotypes.” (Forman, 4). When Barak Obama America’s first black president feels obliged to use part of his State of the Union address halfway through his second term in office to have a conversation about the state of the dialogue between blacks and whites in America, it means we haven’t been there where we can honestly talk about the issue of racial prejudice in educational system, criminal justice system, in educational system and in workplace hiring. We need to start a national conversation about race, what it actually means? Is it segregating us from one another? Approximately every white person in America conveys around an implicit racial prejudice that subconsciously favors white people over black people in social, professional and educational system. It’s because Americans still carry the black and white thinking, in other words they stereotype people of color based on certain assumptions.

So why aren’t we taking steps to resolve this issue? Why it only becomes exposed after occurrences like the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri? Or the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, or the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri? During the past two eras tons of national surveys in America consistently demonstrate more than three-quarters of Americans don’t believe that they have an issue with racial tension. Very few of them openly admit that they’re discriminatory or racist, these surveys have publicized for years. But a more recent study directed by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that numerous Americans still do, in fact, harbor beliefs about racial minorities that are based on prejudiced stereotypes. This study used a sophisticated and prudently biased questionnaire with a variety of probable answers that estimated up to seven different features about diversity of groups, religions and ethnicities. Since it involved a series of characteristics, and a variety of groups that didn’t segregate blacks or whites, the survey went more intensely into racial stereotypes. African-Americans were rated as less intelligent than whites by more than half of the survey takers. Diversity Digest wrote about the novel University of Chicago research. “62 percent of the entire respondents rated African-Americans as lazier than whites; and more than 3 out of 4 survey respondents said that African-Americans are more inclined than whites to favor wellbeing over work.”

If someone is asked about what a “typical drug user” looks like, he/she may answer— a Black person? this is because Americans still stereotype a whole community based on certain incident or certain act undertaken by a person belonging to that community. African American youth are usually less likely to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs than White Americans. Most people become astonished knowing this. Extensive national surveys like the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) found that white Americans are suggestively more likely to have substance use illnesses than their black counterparts. The shocking and devastating majority of drug addicts should be Whites because African Americans are a statistical minority in the US. Nevertheless, African Americans are suspiciously targeted, arrested, and jailed for drug related crimes because people use the pathological stereotype of the Black junkie or drug supplier to justify the unfair scales of justice. We fill our prisons with these people to broadcast an illusion of protection and safety. Blacks are overrepresented in jails for drug-related corruptions. Most Americans assume that they must be locked up because they deserve it, continuing the pathological stereotype.

If white American entitlement meant anything, it meant that no matter how patronizing, unashamed, deliberate, unintentional, poor, rich, rural, urban, ignorant, and destructive white Americans could be, black Americans were still encouraged to work for them, write to them, listen to them, talk with them, run from them, emulate them, teach them, dodge them, and ultimately thank them. Many Americans don’t want to confess that segregation is still there sometimes by design, sometimes by choice. The root of which is racial stereotyping and labeling people with certain tags. Let’s make it clearer, this isn’t the segregation that was prevailing in the ancient era. It’s not a lawfully directed and imposed system supported by public figures like former Alabama George Wallace, who said, ‘Segregation today. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever,’ to resounding applause, in 1963. The “whites only” signs have been terminated to lurk over bathrooms, restaurant counters and water fountains. Yet, segregation still exists visibly in our educational systems, societies, and prisons etc. We are not even realizing how it is infusing our society in different ways.

Most stereotypes about Blacks are deepened by television representations. Media plays significant role in stereotyping African Americans as negative. Studies shows that they are generally portrayed in blue-collar occupations, such as a house cleaner or a postal worker in television programs. Likewise, in a widespread review of Blacks in the media it is found that the media often represented African Americans in occupational roles, such as a servant, a cook, a sad non-White person, violent, greedy, ignorant, power-driven or a corrupt individual. African Americans are often depicted with personality features that are stereotypically negative and harmful. Some people consider black people to be more dangerous because they are larger, stronger and more muscular. They believe that black men are more capable of causing harm to them. Height appears to be valuable for men in terms of salaries and achievement. However, for black men, height may be more costly than beneficial, mostly signaling danger rather than competence.

Whites who have negative racial stereotypes about blacks want less African Americans in their neighborhoods than those who discard these stereotypes. Incorporation has always been a white substantial idea. Incorporation has always been on white people’s terms. Black people integrated into white churches, white schools, and white neighborhoods. Whites are never seen moving into black neighborhoods, they are only seen kicking them out. In the same way they are never seen attending black colleges, joining black churches, and so on. Negative Racial stereotype of African American is creating hatred towards them. A group of black people standing in the corner of a road are always considered to be dangerous. Evidence also proposes that racial prejudice is having a hostile influence on the ability of African Americans to get home mortgages. Consequently, many African Americans are being unlawfully kept from attaining the positive consequences related with homeownership irrespective of their capability to afford their homes. This sort behavior by lenders has negative allegations for wealth formation, income tax assistances, and emotional gratification for African Americans. If racial bias is somewhat responsible for the presence of racial rejection gaps, strategies targeted at reducing racial prejudice could improve homeownership outcomes for African Americans. Such policies could include reducing barriers to outside competition in particularly prejudiced jurisdictions or implementing stricter enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in jurisdictions where racial prejudice is common.

We need to continue the conversation about the dreadful segregation in our schools and neighborhoods. According to a study last year, 38% of blacks go to schools where fewer than 10% of their peers are white. But beyond that, we often forget to have a conversation about how segregation affects us on a personal level. How it infuses not only countless of our public and private organizations, but also American culture at large. We don’t even talk about cultural or social separation nowadays. We have an area or zone where we have control over, where people of our color live. This is how we are separating each other by creating a barrier between us. This social and cultural segregation isn’t limited to uneducated people but is equally prominent in environments where smart, cultured and educated people live. Now we have to agree and face the truth that for many Americans, even if they live and work with diverse people, but their best friends, the people they spend their time with, the people they invite into their lives and families, often look like they do, supporting a de facto segregation. People who have studied and have knowledge about race, spent months living abroad with people of different race or ethnicity, tasted different foods, read Ralph Ellison and some of them also have black friends or loved ones, still too often accomplish to have a community that doesn’t reflect diversity. We don’t hear much about this type of divide because some people don’t want themselves to be seen as a racist some of them don’t even see it as a racist act. It’s a hard phenomenon to measure. People aren’t born with biases about race. It’s not there in our DNA. It is something that is based on insight and is passed from generation to generation. It is something that we hypothetically assume about people over time through media, in discussions, in negotiations, in the way we interrelate socially with each other in our daily lives. Which ultimately create distortion among communities and separate us as different groups.


  • Watkins, Sharon. “Racism Is Poisoning Our Society” Time. May 1, 2015.
  • Way, William. “The Nature and Problem of Stereotypes” University of Colorado at boulder.
  • Williams, Monica. “African Americans and Pathological Stereotypes” Psychology Today. Dec 27, 2011.
  • Forman, Tyrone. “Does Race Matter in Neighborhood Preferences?” PMC. Jul 8, 2013.
  • Nesbit Jeff. “America Has a Big Race Problem” US NEWS. March 28, 2016.
  • Fuchs, Chris. “Why the ‘Studious Asian’ Stereotype Hurts” News. Aug 22, 2017.
  • Facktan, The Pew Research center.

Cite this page

Effect of Negative Racial Stereotype of African Americans. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/effect-of-negative-racial-stereotype-of-african-americans-essay

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