While black men have made countless contributions to American society, how they are portrayed in the media often fails to tell their stories. From mug shots to biased descriptions, positive reflections of black men in the media continue to be an issue of concern across American newsrooms.
To help combat the issue, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will host its third annual national Black Male Media Project (BMMP) day on June 1, with local events happening simultaneously in cities across the country.
Approximately 20 NABJ affiliate chapters will host coast-to-coast workshops, panels and events focused on examining newsroom diversity and accountability; providing solutions to improve black male representation; professional development, mentorship and networking opportunities; as well as inspiring black men by addressing the issues that concern them most.
“The overarching goal of BMMP is to counteract negative images of black men often portrayed in the media,” said Sarah Glover, NABJ President and creator of BMMP.
“We encourage all newsrooms across the country to make this a priority because how black men are portrayed in the news can have a direct impact on issues such as racial profiling, discriminatory hiring practices, violence and more. Black men are intellectuals, professionals, innovators, spiritual leaders, activists, fathers, brothers and sons just like any other man and should be treated and portrayed that way.”
President Glover will participate in a special BMMP opportunity as she travels to Colombia to reunite with Afro-Colombian journalists she’s stayed in touch with after they traveled to the joint NABJ-NAHJ Convention in Washington, D.C., in 2016. The journalists journeyed to meet President Glover and the NABJ Board members to establish a pulse with NABJ.
In addition to meeting with Afro-Columbian journalists, President Glover will be visiting Bogota, Cali and Medellin, and will be working with local black men on June 1 to conduct a BMMP event in Cali, where the highest concentration of Afro-Colombians reside. NABJ is asking its members, supporters and followers to use the hashtag #InspireBlackMen on social media to bring awareness to the BMMP on June 1, while also sharing positive images of black men resulting from local efforts.
“We are pushing for an accurate portrayal of the contributions of black males and dedicate this day to offering our resources and talents to educating the public and media professionals, as well as encouraging black men about the important roles they play in our society,” said Ken Lemon, co-chair of BMMP and NABJ Board member.
Among the local programs occurring in conjunction with BMMP is the #MoreThanMugshots panel discussion hosted by the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists in Maryland. The program takes a direct look at the responsibility of news organizations to accurately reflect the roles black males play in society and what efforts can be made to change the narrative about black men.
The discussion will be led by local anchor Stan Stovall (WBAL-TV 11) and includes other media professionals such as John-John Williams IV (The Baltimore Sun), Andre Hepkins (WBAL-TV 11) and Karl Nelson (Intern Media). Author and community activist Kondwani Fidel, Adam Jackson of the grassroots think-tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, and arts activist and former professional football player Aaron Maybin will also join the discussion. A listing of some of the programs happening around the country is available below.