Image Courtesy of [Tupac Amaru Shakur via Flickr]
Image Courtesy of [Tupac Amaru Shakur via Flickr]

In the 21st century, African-Americans enjoy more equality and freedom in the United States than ever before. However, in just the past few years, issues of civil rights have once again come to the forefront. The ruinous relationship between young black men and law enforcement has rapidly ascended to the height of public discourse and consciousness–at a level not seen since the 1960s and 1970s. Although there has been robust discussion regarding police-minority relations, a more comprehensive discussion of institutional racism in the media and the black identity it contrives has seldom been had.

Many theorize that this black identity may be a significant impediment to economic mobility within the black community, especially when many black boys will grow up either wanting to be like Michael Jordan or Tupac Shakur. Achieving that level of fame in athletics and music is clearly difficult to accomplish, so when these boys don’t make it, criminality can become a third path that is both viable and desirable. Critics of the black identity argue that possibly it is the legacy of the past that is reinforcing these career paths and preventing progress. Read on to learn about this criticism of the modern black identity, its roots in slavery, and its perpetuation in the media.

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