There’s a viral video making the rounds on social media called “Three Black Teenagers.” In the video, a young black male shows his friend (who’s also a black male) a Google search on his phone for “three black teenagers.” The images that appear show mostly incarcerated black males and other negative imagery.
However, when the young man changes the search parameters to “three white teenagers,” the search results then populate images of smiling, happy, typical teenagers.
YOOOOOO LOOK AT THIS pic.twitter.com/uY1JysFm8w
— July 3rd. (@iBeKabir) June 7, 2016
While the young men in the video laugh at the results, their lack of outrage and anger are also symptomatic of the deeper issues of how the average black male’s image is distorted, not just in search engines like Google, but in the minds of most people on the planet.
And many conservatives will be quick to point towards things like “black on black crime,” arguing that it’s the fault of black men that their image is seen in a negative light. Their shortsighted non-contextual observations will often ignore evidence that points to a historical, systematic problem that stretches far beyond the “thug culture” they like to use as a scapegoat.
The truth is that there was never a time in U.S. history where black men had a positive image. Many of the same stereotypes and tropes used during slavery are used today to generalize black men. One video shows how little difference many conservative whites viewed African-Americans in 1968 as compared to today.
Here’s the video.
But, while many conservatives will argue that black celebrities, musicians, and sports stars control the image of African-American men, when you take a look behind the curtain, you find that these people usually have little to no financial control over the industries for which they work. Rappers like Lil Wayne are little more than employees working for mostly-white corporate executives who want to sell “urban” music and style to their biggest consumer.
And here’s a little hint as to the identity of the biggest consumer of corporate controlled “black culture products” like rap music and clothing: it’s not the seven percent of the U.S. population that is comprised of young African-Americans between the ages of 18 to 34. The biggest consumers of the often derided negative “black culture” being sold by corporate America are young white American consumers, followed by people from other countries and cultures.
This video breaks down the “Three Black Teenagers” video a bit further and explains how systematic racism and mass incarceration lead to the results we see in the video.
Featured image via freelook.info.