New Program Hopes To Change Black Male Image Through Art

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Black male identity project
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Image change. It’s what a local group of artists wants for black men.

As Gigi Barnett explains, the group says it can make a change with art.

Time behind bars. Arrest by police. Low graduation rates. They are negative images and stereotypes that a group of artists and community activists say plague the black community in general and black men in particular.

“We want to challenge those perceptions,” said Diana Morris, Open Society Institute director.

They plan to do that with a new program called “the Black Male Identity Project.”     

For the next year, African-American boys and teens will work with artists from all backgrounds to paint, draw, even write about the images they see and figure out how to change them.

“This is an opportunity for people to break through stereotypes and get a much more nuanced understanding of all that African-American community, boys and men are,” said Morris.

The artists say it’s television shows like HBO’s “The Wire” that keep myths about black men alive.

“Other than our president, you don’t get that image daily or throughout society,” Rashid Shabazz said.        

Baltimore is 65 percent African-American. Organizers say that’s why they chose the city as the first location for the Black Male Identity Project.

“When you look at this room today, what this means…I think it’s a turning point for Baltimore,” Shabazz said.

Click here for more information on the Black Male Identity Project.

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