Social Science: Literature Review Sample on Media Portrayal of Young Black Boys


For a long time, media outlets have portrayed young black men as criminals and incapable of becoming responsible members of the society. The lives of many black people men have suffered adversely resulting from the negative racial stereotype associated with the group. Employers easily turn away young black men looking for jobs just because they deem the populace as ‘not the right fit’. It is almost impossible for a young black male to walk freely on the streets without police and public suspicion of crime. The damaging stereotype has left many young black males locked in their houses, in fear of interacting with the rest of the community, as an attempt to avoid getting in trouble. However, the media fails to broadcast the success stories of many young black men who have not only trounced but also gone above and beyond to prove the stereotype wrong. Instead of focusing on the positives of the black males, the media continues to run a story that continually gives false representation of the young men from the black race.


It is impossible to deny that today’s world runs on the media saturation that governs the views and opinions of modern culture (CITE). In the era of twenty-four-hour media reach and interactions, it is difficult to live without the influence of media. For most people, the only way to learn about happenings outside the personal space is through the consumption of media products such as news, films, and even commercials. Therefore, mass media occupies a special place in the society. The portrayal of young black men as delinquent trouble makers is a perception that has for a long time remained in the scripts of media houses.

In 2011, a research study conducted by The Opportunity Agenda revealed that the negative portrayal of media among black males is the primary reason behind the increased low life expectations in the society (Donaldson 2017). With constant reinforcement in televisions, print media, the internet, and even radio stations, the stereotype more or less shapes the public perception of colored men. The connotations associated with the race stereotype are the same factors that lead to the creation of barriers that limit the advancement of men of color not only socially but also economically. Despite the existence of variant statistics of the colored men in actual life, the media’s malignancy in portraying the negative undertone of the group is an issue that should not only end but also stop so as to present the reflection of real life advances. The numerous innocent killings of black men by police, in the United States is reflective of the extent the race stereotype continues to harm the colored males.

Although instances of crime and delinquency have for long been associated with black males, the stereotype is far away from the truth reflected on the ground. More and more black males are enrolling into educational institutions, with the intention of changing the course of the lives to deviate from the societal general beliefs. There are more actors, athletes, sportsmen, musicians, doctors, teachers and even politicians that come from the black community, responsible members of the society that have nothing to do with violence and criminal activities.

Literature review

The success story of African-American males is one that does not have a voice. There lacks a media outlet to publicize and broadcast the turn-around it black males’ behavior, in an attempt to change the longstanding ideology that associates the youth with illegal activities. Nonetheless, despite the role of the media in the accentuation of the race stereotypes, unconscious bias plays the biggest role in the problem. The reason most police officers shoot innocent young men in suspect of crime is due to the lack of objectivity when separating crime from young black males (Faulkner, 2014, p. 9). The harmonization and conduction of frequent police reviews and social meetings with black males is one sure way that aids in the facilitation of positive relationship between the authorities and the Africa-American male youth.

Currently, the number of black males attending college is as high as ever. As a matter of fact, the push for education among black African-American males is aimed at rubbishing the general stereotype that most black males are not only uneducated but also engage in criminal activities for a living. The United States air force is one of the most reputable and prestigious institutions in the country. The statistics show that black males constitute the largest number of military personnel in the air force (Rome, 2004, p. 7). The sudden change in professional and social standards for the black men is a fact that assures a continued culture while raising their children and rest of their generation. With educated fathers, the chances of turning out in crime dens is almost nil

Apart from the pursuit of education, many African-American males are now starting and engaging in community projects. It is at the community level that people develop lasting impression about others. Therefore, to enhance a positive rapport between them and the society, more and more black males are finding themselves active participants of projects in their neighborhoods. As a result, the general perception changes which eventually reach the media and changes the overall violence-based ideology about black men. In the present day, the number of African-American professionals has slowly but steadily remained on the rise (Gordon, 2004, p. 133). The thirst for education is a factor that has led more black males to enter the professional employment market, away from the streets and crime.

Social media and become the next big thing not only in communication and interaction but also in the day-to-day living. Instead of hiding away in homes in fear of public judgement, many black males have identified the use of social media to highlight achievements by young black men, in an attempt to remove the general stereotype about the crowd (Watchel, 2014, p. 196). As a matter of fact, using social media to advocate for change is becoming even more effective that televisions and print media. The reach of the internet is wide and timeless, making the approach pivotal in, clearing the societal expectations of black males.

President Obama’s presidency is evidence that disqualifies the racist stereotype that black males have a link to delinquency and violence. Not only did Obama come from an educated family, but He also pursued education and worked hard enough to prove that even African-Americans can success, not only in business but also in leadership (Barker, 2016, p. 154). As the first African-American President in the history of the United States, Obama’s presidency ultimately proved the racial stereotype wrong. For many African-America families, Obama’s presidency acted as the nail on the head in an attempt to separate the back race with instances of crime and violence. Thanks to Obama, more black boys see a ray of hope in the future’s with the promise of a good and respectable life, away from the racial profiling that has for a long time haunted young black men.


Despite the tremendous strides take by the African-American males to clear their name in the modern society, the media continues to paint a negative picture of the group. Instead of highlighting the advances made by black males, the media continues to ignore the positive an only broadcasts the negative. As a role model in the society, media outlets should not only focus on increasing their viewership. Reporting accurate information and the factors that affect the thegeneral society is critical. However, the negative media presentation should not be an impediment to the prosperity of young black males. It is important to remember that the negative stereotype associated with black males and crime took a long time to [develop. So, in the same way, it will take a longer time to ensure that both the media and the community accept the new role adopted by African-American black boys.




Barker, L. A. (2016).Obama on our minds: the impact of Obama on the psyche of America.New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Donaldson, L. (2017). When the media misrepresents black men, the effects are felt in the real world | Leigh Donaldson. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Faulkner, C. (2014). Interconnections: gender and race in American history. Rochester, University of Rochester Press.

Gordon, J. U. (2004). The Black male in white America.New York, Nova Science Publishers.

Rome, D. (2004). Black demons: the media’s depiction of the African American male criminal stereotype. Westport, Conn, Praeger.

Wachtel, P. L. (2014). Race in the mind of america: breaking the vicious circle between blacks and whites. Routledge.