Portions of these grim messages were extended to black men's violence, especially that of the “violent” black, lower-class male. I was told that all black men were inherently aggressive and violent. They, like white men, could rape, plunder, assault, and murder our souls. Poor black men with Negroid features were particularly inclined to this behavior. I therefore acquired a deep-seated fear of the “savage” nature of black men who could not control their pent-up aggressiveness, hatred, and sexual urges. Believing them to be inherently criminal, my black female elders considered poor black men as the “other.”1
Another consequence for black America is that this “monster” image created by the white popular culture has been taken over by some poor blacks. According to Stallworth (1994), young black men and women both continue to follow patterns of slavery times. They become the monsters. Many fulfill white America's image of them legitimately by becoming successful gangsta rappers; others fulfill this image illegitimately by becoming “baaad niggers.” “Rappers, therefore, reinforce the popular belief that as “baaad-ass niggers” young blacks can achieve fame, recognition, and a sense of being (somebody). If they lose, however, they face a long stay in our jails and prisons or even bodily injury and death.2
The present study contends that the negative stereotypes that many people have of African American men are created to a significant degree by the mass media.