Today, we are very honored to have our first guest blogger, the legendary researcher/ethnographer, Pepper Miller of the Hunter-Miller Group in Chicago, http://www.huntermillergroup.com. She has given us a thought provoking take about the view of Black men as typically shown in the media and how fair and authentic representation of them rarely takes place. We are grateful to Pepper, and welcome your feedback on her post.
Clayton and LaNise Ollarvia’s Atlanta wedding was wonderful. She was the classic beautiful bride and he the handsome groom. The bridal party was striking and the parents proud and tearful at times.
What captured my attention and became the impetus for this post, was the constant conversations taking place from every corner of the wedding reception about Clayton’s groomsmen. Heard at the tables, the bar -- even in the restroom, guests were buzzing about the young men’s charm, intelligence and wit. Importantly, many surmised –unaided by this researcher-- that the groomsmen’s behavior was not uncommon and therefore questioned why more positive stories and images of Black men aren’t seen in the media.
The National Urban League’s annual State of Black America Report typically paints a truthful, but often dismal picture about the current situation and outlook of Black America and particularly Black men.
While this information is not inaccurate, the National Urban League and many service organizations typically rely on the harsh realities of Black America to secure grants and funding for social service programs that are sorely needed and appreciated in Black communities across the nation. I am not, by any means, implying that these social service reports are not welcomed or valued--they are. However, there is another side. It’s the story about Black America and Black men that often does not get told.
In general, Black men tend to be younger (29.5 v.35.4) and as a segment, has been growing three times the rate of the white males. Although educational attainment fluctuates, more are recognizing and embracing education as a means for overcoming societal barriers and advancing oneself. In fact, from 1976-2004, Black male college graduates doubled. Additionally, Black men are taking more responsibility for their families; two parent families increased at nearly double the US rate from the last Census. Many also have assumed significant roles in business, politics, sports entertainment and other areas. Additionally, The Black America Study www.blackamericastudy.com identifies one of its eleven segments as “Black Onliners". This segments includes a majority of Black men who are 97% online, educated, moderate income earners, have a majority of Black friends and respond favorably to targeted Black advertising.
Often copied is Black men’s invaluable influence on global culture. Think: swagger, language, music, fashion and being early adaptors of technology. Importantly, Black men are the arbiters of cool. They don’t own it, but interestingly, they are the only group that looks to each other, and not to others, to determine what is hip and cool-- and the world follows.