Media representations of popular culture figures and the construction of Black masculinities.

The present study explores the construction of masculinity among young Black men. Of central concern is young Black men’s subjective reflections on the role that popular culture and media have in informing how they understand and define their ideas of masculinity. The study uses interview data from a larger pilot study, the Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health Project, where participants sought to elucidate perceptions of the intersections between manhood and mental health. Study participants included 18- to 26-year-old Black men (n = 11) enrolled at a university in the Midwest. When asked to describe and identify their definitions of manhood, participants referred to well-known male media figures of the past and present, and specifically identified various social movement leaders, athletes, and entertainers who were central to their conceptualization of manhood. Moreover, men identified both positive and negative qualities of these popular figures to determine aspects they either aspired to adopt or reject when forming their own ideas about manhood. Study findings show that popular culture figures play complex roles in Black men’s constructions of masculinity while uncovering that Black men use the images of these figures to deconstruct harmful, antiquated stereotypes and tropes associated with Black masculinity. Popular culture figures are also used to highlight and grapple with complex messages about the disposability of Black men’s lives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)