Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Black Men Under The Radar

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.


PhredRixxx said...

I could not agree more. However, as a young black male in the advertising world, I cannot help but to feel a certain disconnect between my current environment and that of the 'Black America' in such studies. I have made it past my parents in education, which will eventually, as I am only 23, lead to a higher salary and more opportunities in my life. As I have heard, these opportunities often distance successful blacks from the environments they came from, leaving few positive role models in their communities. One of my main concerns as I build my career is how do I still stay connected, while allowing myself to have the big house and manicured lawn, besides the occasional trip to the barbershop? How can we show our path to success without sacrificing the perks or sounding preachy?
- Fred R.

Pepper Miller said...


Glad to hear that you want to stay "connected."
So many young professional Black people shy away from organizations and groups with Black or African American in the title for fear of being pigeonholed or labeled and then find themselves too distant and disconnected from Black culture. (Particularly if they did not grow up in Black communities)
Feel free to email me @ pepper@huntermillergroup.com. Would love to talk with you about your connection objectives. Would love to help.

collarvia said...

Well, firstly I'am glad to see that our wedding is still buzzing. Now to the question at hand, Fred I must agree with you as a recent college graduate and a person about to further my education there is a massive disconnect between as DuBois would say the "Talanted 10th" and the rest of the population.

However, the way in which we remain relevant is to continue to give back! Now I know that for some this is easier said than done, but I believe there in lies the solution. With a daunting amount of African American men going to jail, it is up to those of us who are going places to take 1 or 2 boys with us.

I would argue that through mentoring and tutoring we can be much more effective and tragedies such as the senseless beating of that young man will cease to occur.