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African-American man in a red hoodie

We should be past the point of judging people by the color of their skin, but it doesn’t seem like everyone has quite gotten the message.

One could argue that the media has a rather slanted portrayal of African-Americans. From rap songs about African-American men (and boys) killing each other in the streets to news stories about African-American criminals (which we see more of on TV than criminals of other races), we’re shown more bad examples than good ones. Some of the people we see on TV unfortunately really are that bad, but the problem is that we tend to assume that everyone is like what we see on TV. We tend to make generalizations and think that negativity is the norm for African-Americans, which isn’t necessarily true. The 1890’s were a good example of the media’s power to stretch the truth and sway public opinion; Yellow Journalism, which focused less on hard news and more on propaganda, was one of the key factors that led America to start a war and seize foreign land. The media might not be swaying America to wage all-out war right now, but it has certainly created a general sentiment against African-Americans.

How many cases have you heard of police officers harassing, detaining, arresting, attacking and killing people (who just happened to be African-American) for being “suspicious?” The legitimacy of some cases is debatable, but more often than not, common sense says that racial profiling is at play. For example, an African-American teen was pepper-sprayed by police in his own home; he was mistaken for a burglar. Apparently, a concerned neighbor called police after seeing the teen enter the house which was owned by the teen’s white foster parents. The police never asked him who he was, what he was doing there or asked for his ID. This is evidence that we’ve been trained to assume that African-Americans are guilty until proven innocent.

It’s important to realize that the world is much bigger than what we see on TV, hear on the radio or read about in the news. Don’t let your perception of a person, a group of people or anything else be formed completely by whatever someone else throws in your face.

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