In the US, Black Men Define Success for Themselves
The effects of racism are traumatic – and today’s black man is resiliently persevering. While many believe that “slavery ended long ago,” the impacts of slavery, segregation, and misrepresentation in society continue into the present day in the form of marketplace bias, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Becoming property owners, getting a quality education, and accruing wealth to pass down to family are ongoing systemic challenges. However, we wanted to understand how the Black Man is living today and what we can do to advance his causes.
With the goal of expanding the way that black men are defined in the media landscape, we recently conducted a study called “Black Men Revealed.” This project involved a national survey of black men in the US, 100 hours of face-to-face interviews, and a review of 250 hours of video interviews.
Our research revealed the resilience of American black men as they maneuver through life using seven modes – Dreaming, Connecting, Protecting, Surviving, Hustling and Grinding, Loving, and Succeeding.
In this post, I’m going to focus on Succeeding Mode. Society defines success for a black man as being one of four things – an athlete, rapper, drug dealer, or musician. But in reality, he’s challenging those stereotypes and creating his own definition of success. It’s not an easy road. His goals can feel like a moving target, and like he has to work twice as hard to accomplish them.
We found that success for the black man is uniquely grounded in several attributes. His belief in a higher power is the most influential. After that, other strong sentiments include having a legacy to pass to his children, freeing himself from worry, wanting to beat the odds, living in a way that would make his ancestors proud, achieving beyond what seems possible, and contributing to his community.
“Black Men Revealed” was created to help reshape the way the black man is defined in our culture. Let’s help shift how the world sees him and how he seems himself by creating brands, products and content that feel like they were made just for him.