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Changing the Narrative About Black Families: New Guide Uncovers and Challenges Racist Language and Stereotypes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 13, 2020



Changing the Narrative About Black Families: New Guide Uncovers and Challenges Racist Language and Stereotypes

Color Of Change and Family Story Target Six Harmful Terms That Must Be Avoided in Order to Move Toward an Anti-Racist Society

NEW YORK, NY – Today, Color Of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice group, and Family Story, a cutting-edge organization that works on addressing and dismantling family privilege, released Changing the Narrative about Black Families: An anti-racist guide for avoiding the inaccurate and biased language that turns society against Black families. In the guide, the authors detail how biased terms and false representations of Black families breed hostility toward them and create public demand for treating Black families not only differently but unfairly, with grave consequences. 

Findings include Black families are scorned and punished for experiencing the same challenges that elicit support and compassion when experienced by white families. The guide also offers recommendations for media to use that corrects biased language and offers effective, nuanced ways to talk about Black families in an effort to portray their real experiences and lives. 

“Over the past few months, the world has witnessed to a heightened degree to which Black people are inaccurately portrayed in the media and the great damage caused by the spread false narratives about Black people and our families,” said Rashad Robinson, President of Color Of Change. “These racist terms and narratives we are challenging with this report expose a set of rules that white people in similar situations are not held accountable to, and which put all people—especially Black people—in danger.”

Changing the Narrative about Black Families challenges dangerous myths and racist language that — intentionally or not — encourages anti-Black discrimination and violence toward Black families. The guide provides detailed context on specific terms, such as broken family, absentee father, and out of wedlock which are used unfairly to judge and punish Black families and deny the recognition, care, compassion and support that white families in similar situations receive. 

“We have completely different sets of rules for white families and Black families, and our language reflects that, said Nicole Rodgers, Founder and Executive Director of Family Story. As the country faces a racial reckoning around anti-Black police violence, we also need to wrestle with how language about Black families perpetuates dangerous and inaccurate myths that justify everything from dismissing their everyday concerns to perpetuating violence against them. This guide explains how we got here and provides tools for more honest, accurate, and productive conversations about Black families.”

The consequences of these inaccurate narratives for Black people are real and significant. Leaders and politicians have used policies to structurally disadvantage Black families for decades. They are enabled by myths suggesting Black families are less deserving, lack ambition, and are wholly responsible for conditions that are, in fact, outside of their control. Government leaders, their policies and inaction have allowed COVID-19 to disproportionately infect and harm Black communities. Judges give Black people 20% longer sentences than white people for the same crimes and are 1.75 times more likely to face those charges as compared to white folks, with the net result of forcing Black families apart at much higher rates than other families. 

The guide concludes that changing the way the media talks about Black people will have real results. Eliminating biased and racist terms about families is an important step toward restoring balance and fairness in social norms and social policies, and moving toward an anti-racist society.

Access the full guide on both Color Of Change and Family Story websites. 


About Color Of Change

Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us, design campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back and champion solutions that move us all forward. As a national online force driven by 7 million members we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

About Family Story

Family Story works to address and dismantle family privilege in America. We conduct cutting-edge research to expose the ways family privilege causes harm and create cultural and political strategies to advance equity for all types of families. We believe everyone has a unique journey and that all adults and families deserve support and respect.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 13, 2020


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