Opportunity for Black Men and Boys

By: Brandan "Bmike" Odums

After the harrowing shooting of Trayvon Martin, Americans could no longer ignore the real life consequences that harmful media depictions have on Black men and boys. All people, and particularly impressionable young people, deserve to see thoughtful depictions of people who look like them.

Media coverage of black men and boys is often a funhouse mirror, distorting the reality of nearly 25 million people’s lives into a small handful of narratives that emphasize narrow archetypes of criminality and violence, and ignore education, family, community involvement, and professional success. This coverage is cruel because it limits the imagination for the next generation when they consider what is possible for them, and it is dangerous because it feeds into fear of and discrimination towards black men and boys.

To counteract these media images and improve black men and boys' opportunities, The Opportunity Agenda conducted three studies, which have been powerful tools in the hands of advocates, communicators, media makers, academics and others who are working toward a more fair and accurate portrayal of black males in the media.

These studies included a Social Science Literature Review, a Public Opinion Research Review, and analysis of Media Consumption Trends Among Black Men. This research, conducted in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, remains as relevant today as it was then.

Watch Alan Jenkins discuss 'Opportunity for Black Men and Boys' from Open Society Foundations and The American Values Institute on FORA.tv.