When I think back to my childhood, our local community center comes to mind. Sports programs were offered at this center which positively affected the social communication skills of black kids, and encouraged a wide-range of experiences and opportunities. For example, their programs helped to develop social interaction and social skills development, (i.e., teamwork, nonverbal communication, sportsmanship, team building, communication under pressure, conflict resolution, and empathy). Sports had a positive impact on black kids and many achieved greatness in their respective sports in high school and even college. The challenge is that many black kids also had a unique set of talents, interests, and potential in other aspects of life that were hidden by their interest in sports. Black kids were not limited to being athletes when I was a child, nor are they now. However, the problem is that society tends to support black athletes yet fails to recognize their diverse aspirations beyond sports.
Why Does This Happen?
It happens because of the overrepresentation of black athletes in certain sports, particularly in professional basketball and football. This visibility in sports media and popular culture can contribute to the perception that all black individuals excel primarily in athletics. Additionally, historical factors such as racial segregation and limited opportunities for black individuals in certain areas, including education and professional careers, may have contributed to a focus on sports as a means of social mobility and success. This, in turn, can reinforce the stereotype that black individuals are predominantly athletes. These perceptions, however, are not accurate representations of the diverse talents, interests, and abilities of black kids. Just like kids of any other race or ethnicity, black kids have a wide range of passions and skills that extend beyond sports.
Why are Black Kids Only Considered Exceptional as Athletes?
The notion that black kids are only considered exceptional as athletes can be influenced by a variety of factors, including historical patterns, cultural influences, limited exposure to diverse experiences and achievements, and representation in sports media. It is also the social construct that black athletes possess a physical and natural ability that allows them to overcome their perceived cognitive deficits by playing sports. That is called racism friends, compared to white kids who are seen as possessing a special knowledge or intellectual skillset (i.e., being witty or gifted), that allows for greater athleticism. Of course this, more than likely, derived from slavery. You may not want to hear this fact, but it is true. In other words, the fittest and strongest survived and passed athletic skills down throughout generations. I know, antiquated but,
Scientists had to justify it somehow because black athletes were not clever enough to use their intelligence to understand their chosen sport, right?
The notion of black kids only being exceptional as athletes continues today and here are a few reasons why this behavior persists:
How To Overcome This Stereotype
To teach black kids that their dreams matter, foster an environment that promotes inclusivity, provides support, and encourages all of their aspirations. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
Black Kids Can Teach Us More Than Sports
Please do not to view black kids solely through the lens of athletics. Reducing black kids' identities or potential to a single aspect, such as their athletic ability, is unfair and limits their opportunities for growth and success in other areas. Black kids possess skills and talents needed in our society in academics, arts, sciences, entrepreneurship, leadership, and other academic opportunities. Promote a holistic approach to their development to help them realize their full potential and pursue their dreams in various areas of life. We can learn a lot from black kids by active listening, engaging in dialogue, and being open to learning to gain valuable insight and to broaden our understanding of their career aspirations and goals. Valuing and supporting black kids in all aspects of their lives helps to break down stereotypes, promotes inclusivity, and recognizes their talents and abilities beyond the realm of athletics. This approach fosters a more balanced and empowering environment that respects and appreciates their diverse strengths and aspirations.