I actually got a surprise while researching this topic. Typically, I look for an image using Google Image Search and it took a couple pages before I reached an image of a black person. This is contradictory to how the word is typically used. Only when using the keywords Urban Youth did I get my expected results.
So what’s the big deal here? Often times Urban is used as a code word for black, though it is often combined with other words (radio, youth, clothing, music, television, etc) for this meaning. It’s used so often, that it isn’t given a second thought but its audience.
Many businesses and organizations have capitalized on this misconception. Many include urban in their names to further identify their alliance with race such as Urban Outfitters whose clothes don’t seem to fit into this definition and National Urban League, a civil rights organization. Just as Urban Outfitters points out, not all terms or businesses are code words. Urban Legends and UrbanDictionary stem from uses in language that doesn’t exactly predate stereotypes but doesn’t get its meaning from blacks living in the city. Often in Mom and Pop stores it hangs above the music and in the news it describes the people but why? No history exists of the words association with blacks as of yet but it is in heavy use with no misunderstanding of what it means.
Of course I have my own theories on the subject? My first guess is White Flight where whites, moved from urban areas to suburban areas. This changed the ratios of whites to blacks in urban areas therefore creating the stereotype of large amounts of blacks live in urban areas. But wait a second, blacks live in the suburbs too. More so in the south than in the northern states.
I don’t need to quote statistics to prove that blacks live in other areas than in cities, just look around. If someone is working in a store, chances are they live in the area. Especially when it comes to teens. Teens don’t travel as far as adults do to get employment. They go as far a the bus, train or parent will take them within a reasonable distance.
So what harm can this do? There is a huge movement of racists and stereotypical behavior starting to surface. The media will have you believe that it started because of the Tea Party Movement or since Obama started running for president. I believe it started with the popularity of the internet and the new sense of anonymity that it give people. The is one of the founding properties of the KKK and the internet has further this.