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New Program Hopes To Change Black Male Image Through Art

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.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Cal says:

    As a young black kid growing up in the 60s and 70s my greatest foes were ‘those who looked like me.’ Because I didn’t speak the same brand of english they did I was a “white boy” and an “oreo cookie.” I was just as poor (born in Cherry Hill, lived 10 years in O’Donnell Heights) as any of the adults and kids who constantly put me down. That’s right, ADULTS and kids, who put me down. How did I handle it? I continued going to the Enoch Pratt Free Library (my best friend at the time), reading and dreaming. Interestingly enough, I still get the same looks today from some black folks that I used to get way back then, when they hear me speak. Young and old black folks. Still. We need to take a long hard look within before we can ever hope to change that which is from without. By the way, I attended grades 1-5 at Margaret Brent Elementary in the city, 6th grade at Graceland Park just outside of O’Donnell Heights, junior high at Canton Junior High (7-9), and high school at Patterson High (10-12). I only add this to show that I wasn’t a private school baby either. We lived on welfare a good part of my life. God Bless You All.

  2. Herman Glimsher says:

    YEAH, BLAME “THE WIRE” FOR KEEPING THOSE MYTHS ALIVE ABOUT BLACK MEN…………..ALSO, BLAME THE MAURY POVICH SHOW BECAUSE ALMOST EVERYDAY THERE ARE 2-3 BLACK MEN ON THEIR WITH 6 KIDS EACH FROM 4 DIFFERENT WOMEN AND THEY’RE NOT PAYING CHILD SUPPORT FOR ANY OF THE KIDS.

    ART ISN’T GOING TO HELP………………..STAY IN SCHOOL AND LEARN HOW TO SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH AND GET YOU DIPLOMA……………..STAY OFF THE CRACK!!!!

    1. esee says:

      how do you know that art isn’t going to help? have you done a study?

  3. Kevin Lei says:

    I attended this event earlier today and it was very insightful, promising and showed a glimpse of hope for our African American boys and men.

    I can only hope that individuals within the community will accept this awesome program and become apart of something that has the ability to change our neighborhoods, families, and culture forever!

  4. Ex-Baltimore says:

    What black men need to change their negative image:

    1. Stay in school and graduate.
    2. Stay away from criminal activity.
    3. Stay away from drugs.
    4. Don’t produce out out of wedlock children.
    5. Don’t produce children until college education and good job are obtained.
    6. Find one woman to love and marry her.
    7. Stay dedicated to your job and get promotions.
    8. Get and stay polically active.
    9. Have religion in your life (go to chruch).
    10. Be intellectual and not view this as trying to act “white”, i.e. go to libraries
    and visit museums instead of going to clubs every weekend.
    11. Don’t waste money on depreciating material possession, i.e., Mercedes,
    gold chains, athetic shoes, etc…

    If every Black American tried all the above, in just five years your whole life will be better beyond your wildest dreams. I’m an example! Six-figure household income and me and my wife live in an exclusive community. We’re headed to Europe for vation this summer. Life is good.

    1. Ken says:

      Very well stated. Hopefully the NAACP along with Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and Louis Farrakann will affirm what you have said. Use your time constuctively instead of destructively and you will do more than survive. You will be a part of society. Actions speak louder than words.

    2. Peter says:

      Staying still and doing nothing are two different things.

      BLACK MALE–31–NO CHILDREN–STUDY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND GIRLFRIEND and FAMILY–NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE. This is ME.

      It is all about setting priorities. It all starts with family life. If values are not set at an impressionable age trouble is just around the corner. I’m a black man and a product of my mother and father raising me with morals and religious beliefs. My parents are still strong today going on 35 years of love, happiness and peace. I want all of my black men to feel what I feel everyday. I work hard, I have an excellent job with benefits and stability. I reap the reward of promotions and enjoy the competitive edge.

      TRAVEL
      Black men need to see the rest of the world and not just the neighborhood corners. Travel the world. Embrace the difference is culture. Create a productive and legal path for yourself. THE REWARDS ARE AMAZING. THE REWARDS ARE AMAZING. Be blessed everyone!🙂

  5. Baltimorebob says:

    Every,one needs to stop and just say we are all GODS KIDS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Not going to take it says:

    Give me a break….

  7. Chichi says:

    DON’T trust anything funded/sponsored by George Soros’ Open Society Institute! There’s always a hidden agenda and it’s not good.

    1. Luke Howell says:

      what type of hidden agenda and what makes it not good.

  8. whatnow says:

    Cal and Ex-Baltimore keep my hope alive that some day all the different races will live together in harmony. I would be honored to have either as my neighbor. The problem as I see it with this program is they think there are no black people like the ones on the wires and they act like white people are making that up. Come ride the light rail. Try to sit at Hopkins Plaza at lunch time. The wire is alive and well.

  9. Black Art says:

    it would be great if all of this fine advice for black men and what they should do were accompanied by a name other than a ‘handle’. Maybe a real email address or a real name so that you could be contacted for a more in depth exploration of your views. Some of the views Ive read are obviously from some very developed thinkers who seem to have all the answers.

    Be a MAN – Identify yourself and stand behind these most profound observations.

    Cowards

    1. whatnow says:

      What’s your name?

  10. lala says:

    Yes we all are gods kids but I want to know why is this just for black kids and black young men and not all races alot of children need help not just the black kids

  11. ken says:

    and this isn’t racism !!! If I did this for whites the NAACP would be having seizures!!
    RACISTS ALL OF THEM !! Congressional Black Caucus , Miss Black America, NAACP ,Black History Month , ETC. ETC. ETC. if racism is to stop it needs to start with the blacks.

  12. Baltiman says:

    I am sure a young black drug dealer will look at that ballon and say” I am going to change my way and get off theses streets, Thanks ballon.”

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