The goal of the National Youth Art Movement (NYAM) is to provide youth all across America in neighborhoods besieged by gun violence with an opportunity to make their mark on the issue by using their city as a blank canvas to communicate to the entire community the impact on their lives.
Andrew Todd, an Assistant Professor of Psychology and brain sciences at the University of Iowa, is the lead author of a 2016 study entitled, "Does Seeing Faces of Young Black Boys Facilitate the Identification of Threatening Stimuli?" Todd shared that the findings from that study suggest that "Although young children are typically viewed as harmless and innocent, seeing faces of five year-old black boys appears to trigger thoughts of guns and violence."
Back in 2009, Stephen J. Dubner, University of Chicago Economist and Author of Freakonomics, asked the following question on a blog post entitled The Cost of Fearing Strangers:"What do the white guy who dressed up as Santa and killed his ex-wife and her family (and then committed suicide) and the Muslim guy who got thrown off a recent AirTran flight on suspicion of terrorism [But was ultimately cleared for travel by the FBI] have in common?" The answer according to Dubner, both men "had their intentions badly misread."
According to the book Freakonomics (2005), people have a tendency to fear the unknown more than the known. Dubner espouses that one of the reasons why fear of the unknown is so much more gripping is that people use memories and quick assessments as the basis for their everyday decision-making. Issues arise when these mental shortcuts for reasoning are based on inaccurate or false memories.
What this means is that if one's dominate exposure to black youth (or any other group) has been new stories or TV shows that pervasively make associations between them and violence, this can lead to what people may perceive as legitimate stereotypes and stigmas.