This social science literature review focuses on the question of how media, and communications more broadly, affect outcomes for black men and boys in American society. The summary is intended to offer communicators — who come to the review with a wide range of backgrounds and depth of knowledge on the topic — a digestible overview of an extremely rich and varied body of research. It reviews a significant set of materials, representing many of the key approaches and themes that characterize the scholarship as a whole.

There are many, many forces — material, historical, cultural, and political — that shape and constrict the life chances of black males in the U.S. Some of these are longstanding legacies that may take generations to shift. But in other ways, the social, economic, and symbolic place of African-American men and boys is recreated and reinforced every day. In particular, public perceptions and attitudes toward black males not only help to create barriers to advancement within this society, but also make that position seem natural or inevitable. Among the most important mechanisms for maintaining (or changing) these perceptions are the mass media with their significant power to shape popular ideas and attitudes.

This research was authored by Topos Partnership, edited by Janet Dewart Bell and Eleni Delimpaltadaki Janis, and designed by Chris Moore of The Opportunity Agenda.

For more information, please contact Eleni Delimpaltadaki at eleni@opportunityagenda.org.

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