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Creating a new black male stereotype

GAME-CHANGERS: The New Black Stereotypes London project participated in a photo shoot to create images to challenge negative perceptions of black men [Photo credit: Thai Hibbert]

BLACK MEN are all players; they're terrible fathers and most definitely dabble in drugs.

Who came up with these stereotypes?

And, more importantly, why is society still categorising us like this? Earlier this summer, African American businessman Marquelle Turner-Gilchrist, a fashion buyer at Hugo Boss, started a project to challenge these stereotypes.

He said he wanted to use positive imagery to “create new stereotypes” and paint new pictures of the black man, highlighting our diversity and strength.

I also want to show more positive imagery, style and flavours of black people, to break these stereotypes. I want to show that we are out here, every day, contributing and making a difference. 

We are a group of men I am proud to call my brothers. We are British, in different shades of black, with roots in Grenada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, Dominica, Trinidad, Antigua and Zambia.

Our group includes men who are fathers, husbands-to-be, bachelors and friends; men who are lawyers, accountants, journalists, creatives and business people.

The New Black Stereotype movement kicked off in New York this summer when Marquelle gathered his friends to promote images of black men that are not often seen. The concept was simple and the pictures were striking.

New York may have started off this much-desired movement, but now London is keeping the baton of new stereotypes moving.

On a sunny autumn morning in Greenwich, southeast London, we set up a shoot around the Maritime Museum. We kicked about topics from current affairs to relationships to what we were now calling the New Black Stereotype meant to us.

For me, it was just great bringing different friends together and seeing how everyone instantly meshed, formed new friendships and networked all in the name of the New Black Stereotype.

A group of men flawlessly dressed in their Sunday best, a cameraman in tow. We were hard to miss. We were approached and complimented for our attire on a number of occasions, by a range of people, from American exchange students to a middle-aged couple soaking up the sun shouting out: “You all look beautiful!"

The New Black Stereotype does just that; it points out that it's up to us to make sure our diversity and depth is hard to miss in the public discourse about black men.

Just as my brother across the pond inspired me, I hope we can inspire you, and you will inspire others. In order to truly create a new stereotype, there must be frequency and consistency.
Together we can change the images.


Aaron Sylvester is head of business development at infrogr8, a London-based specialist visual design and content strategy agency. He is also the founder of The New Black Stereotypes London (NBSLDN).

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