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Lets talk about stereotypes

September 10, 2010

Stereotypes can be a very dangerous and idiotic thing. One simple stereotype can cause you to irrationally judge a person’s entire being before you have even taken the time to have a simple conversation with that individual. What’s really sad is that there are some people who stereotype so much to the point where they start to convince themselves that their narrow minded stereotypical views are right and also, that even some stereotypes are positive.

I’ll never forget a discussion I once had with an older woman who just could not seem to understand that there is no such thing as a positive stereotype. This conversation took place in my Popular music class, we were discussing the types of music that were used in minstrel shows and this older woman just happened to have had starred in minstrel shows, even all the way up into the late 80’s if I can remember correctly.

At first the conversation started off about the actual minstrel shows that she used to perform in and then it slowly transformed into a debate about the negative images and stereotypes that minstrel shows displayed, specifically toward African Americans. Many of the students had asked her while she was performing and/or watching these minstrel shows did she ever stop to think that maybe what she was doing was wrong or did she ever feel that she was carelessly displaying negative stereotypes of African Americans. While she showed slight regret for her participation in the minstrel shows, she still seemed to think that these stereotypes weren’t actually bad in anyway and it was almost as if she couldn’t understand why an African American would be offended if they saw it. At one point she brought up the stereotype of African American males being great physical athletes, this is where I come in. In her eyes the stereotype of black males being great athletes was a positive thing, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be looked at as a standout physical specimen? Well, as black male myself, I had to explain to her how this stereotype is a bit of an ignorant assumption to make.

Allow me to put this in a real life scenario. I’m all of five feet seven inches tall, my body type resembles nothing of a prototypical basketball player and my skill set makes Kwame Brown look like Michael Jordan in his prime. Now lets say you put me on a basketball court that happens to be in a majority white neighborhood. Now when I was a kid, usually we determined team captains by whoever could make the first three pointer. So lets just say one of the white kids made the first three pointer and upon him getting first pick at choosing a player, he chooses me. Just for the sake of proving my point, lets say that this captain chose me because he had the older woman’s mind set and stereotype in mind. He sees me as an African American male, who may not look freakishly physically gifted but just based on the fact that im black, I should be pretty good at basketball. Then the moment of truth comes and reality sets in. As the game goes on he realizes that my jump shot isn’t as good as he thought it would be, he notices that I don’t have the killer Allen Iverson crossover and that I have no where near enough vertical leap to dunk on anybody. Now all of a sudden everybody is looking at me like I did something wrong.

I mean, since I’m black I should automatically be athletically gifted right? No, wrong, dead wrong. The more and more I tried to explain that concept to the older woman, the more and more it seemed as if she just didn’t get it. I honestly don’t think that this woman was racist at all, she didn’t seem like she meant to be malicious or intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. But like many people, it just seemed as if she were ignorant to the truth, ignorant to the fact that there is nothing positive about stereotyping a person. So to you dear reader, I ask that you try not to stereotype groups of people and put them in one specific box or category. Not every black male is an athlete or gang banger, not every white person is rich or racist, not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every Hispanic is in this country illegally. I know with the media being the powerful tool that it is it’s almost easy to believe the stereotypical images that we see displayed on our television screens everyday. But you’ll never fully know or understand a group of people that are different from your own until you actually physically interact with them and draw your own conclusions, instead of the one’s that are drawn up for you.

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7 comments

  1. I totally agree with you, and can see how frustrating that particular stereotype must be for you. With me, because I’m female and quite small, older people seem to deem me too young/small to understand certain things, and say “when you grow up you’ll understand”, without actually considering that I may be in my twenties, and understand a subject matter with as much clarity as they do. Just because I’m 5″3 and petite, doesn’t mean my brain is small.

    To a certain extent it is impossible not to make ANY judgements about a person, as the human mind makes a decision about a stranger in just seconds, subconsciously. First impressions are almost never accurate, but that’s exactly why people need to realise that even if they have a first impression/stereotype in mind, they must not take it to be factual or truth. So if someone looks at you and considers the possibility that you may be good at a sport, rather than just assuming you are because of your race, that would be the first step to improving.

    It’s a shame a lot of society perpetuates all these stereotypes, that’s why racism and sexism still exist.


    • Ahh, old people and their assumptions. They may know much about life but their driving skills are very questionable, ha.


  2. aahhh stereotypes..yes… whenever I travel into the US immigration and customs automatically look at me with that look that says “youre hispanic you think im going to let you in?” then they see my aussie passport and hear my accent and suddenly im the best thing since sliced bread…haha the customs officers flirt with me the immigration officers say “I love your accent its awesome” its great once they realise I am not made to the mold they first think of.

    I love travelling to the USA and Canada on this basis…its like they have one image of me in their head and when they realise I am not what they thought suddenly im a phenomenon. it does wonders for my ego and dating life while there… maybe if went there for a few months Id find my Mr Right quicker than I could here..hahaha


    • American men love the foreign charm, it’s different than what we’re used to. If you find Mr. right over here then i might have to come up there and find Mrs. Minilaptop lol.


      • haha anytime buddy! trust me you wont be short on choice hehe. i cant guarantee quality personalities though..i am a one off 😀


      • For personality I just need a sense of humor and someone with a brain, everything else can be compromised somewhat lol.


  3. I definitely hate stereotypes too, everyone thinks with me being in my profession that I’m a health nut, I eat so healthy, and that I should be the ideal of health, but I’m not. It’s annoying with someone treating you a certain way because of a stereotype, but in the end that is just how some people are and they just won’t change, they like to judge before they know someone and their opinion is the only one that matters.



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