So, a lot of people rack up human differences to race. I certainly don’t think that has anything to do with it. I think differences are a result of culture. As you read, you should keep in mind that I don’t think race is the issue. I’m a firm believer in nurture over nature.
So let’s list some common stereotypes head on. And I should say for the record that I absolutely refuse to hyphenate a group (i.e. Asian-American, African-American, etc.) I’m talking in all cases about people that live in the US, so I’m talking about Americans. They just have different heritages.
Are they stereotypes if they’re true? Does the fact that it’s a stereotype make it inaccurate or unfair? Let’s see.
Asians are great at math. They like to have their entire family live in a one room apartment. They are high achievers, and always “bust the curve.”
Blacks are great athletes. They like to spend their money on “conspicuous consumption” rather than investing. They are bad drivers.
Northeasterners are all rich. They want to tax the little man and give the money away, rather than coughing up their own money. They are all driven and unpleasant.
Southerners are all racists. They fly confederate flags and drag black people behind their trucks. They are stupid, which you can tell by the way they talk. None of them are educated whatsoever.
West Coasters are all hippy vegans. They like to hug trees all day when they’re not stuck in traffic in their hybrids. Like a fruitcake, if you tip the country up on its end, all of the fruits and nuts would roll to California.
Midwesterners are the worst. They are ignorant farmers, for the most part. Most midwesterners have never seen a building more than 2 stories tall, and they all wish they could live in the big city.
Mexicans are almost all illegal aliens. Even the ones who are here illegally don’t bother to learn English. They like to drive “pimped” hondas with big ugly lettering on the back window. They all have tons of kids.
Caucasians (especially the men) are all well-off. Things were handed to them their entire lives, so they can’t appreciate suffering or hardship. They get jobs because they’re white, not because they deserve them.
Caucasian women all get to live at home and take care of the kids, because the men are making lots of money even though they aren’t deserving of their jobs.
Christians are terrible drivers. I know this because every time I’m behind a minivan with a fish emblem on it, the person drives like a crackhead. The same thing is true of 30 something yuppie moms in their SUV’s, especially the ones that have a yellow ribbon magnet on the back.
Blondes are stupid. And they’re all sluts. If a woman dyes her hair blonde, it means she’s decided to be a slut.
People who drive BMW’s are all jackasses.
Bald men are the best lovers.
Ok, I guess that one’s true.
Aren’t stereotypes fun?
So why, you ask, did you list all of those offensive stereotypes? I’m glad you asked.
As a rational member of society, I can say that while I can observe most of the things I listed above every single day, that is not to say it’s a trait exclusive to one particular group. There are some great white athletes. There are some really terrible white drivers. Millions of them.
There are Asians who are bad at math. There are white men who make minimum wage or can’t find a job at all. There are women that drive SUV’s who aren’t terrible drivers. (Ok, no worse than ALL women)
There are countless people in the south that are well educated and unbigoted. There are people living in Boston that aren’t rich liberals. There are people in California that are Republican, meat-eating entrepreneurs.
There are successful Mexican businessmen. There are Midwesterners that DON’T live on a farm and went to school.
So, if that’s all true, where do the stereotypes come from? Well, I suppose the answer is as simple and logical as it is likely to get me burned at the stake. Stereotypes come from many places. The first, and most easy to understand (and most inflammatory) is this… there’s truth behind most of them.
Incredipete, you low-down racist scumbag.
No. Not. H O W E V E R. If you were to collect stats on every person in the United States, and then look at the respective percentages (based on weighted statistical analysis), you would find that it is indeed disproportionately slanted towards one group or another. Stereotypes don’t usually come from thin air. (BOCTAOE – thanks Scott Adams www.urbandictionary.com) They are based on some version of the truth… just like most rumors. There are elements of truth in even the most pathetic rumor. If there wasn’t, people wouldn’t RELATE to it, and it wouldn’t STICK.
Stereotypes are confirmed in our minds because we see them play out all the time. H O W E V E R. Have you ever considered that you notice only those cases because that’s what you expect to see? Consider when you learn a new word. You’ve probably never “heard” the word before… and suddenly people start using it left and right. Imagine you are shopping for a new car… you hardly EVER see that model on the road. Then as soon as you buy it, you see 500 a day.
It’s not reality. It’s perception. When a Mexican girl aces a calculus test and busts the curve… it’s outside of our paradigm and we don’t notice it. We’re EXPECTING an Asian person to bust the curve. If they had, we would make a mental note and it would reinforce our stereotype.
Another place stereotypes come from (since clearly some stereotypes are completely unfounded and unfair) is the media. The media constantly focuses on the most vagrant and ignorant members of whatever group they’re trying to either a) make look dumb, or b) get people to feel sorry for.
There are other cases when the media will try to make a point by bringing race into it. We watched this play out after Katrina. Black people being oppressed by white people… per usual. The fact was, New Orleans was a disaster ASKING to happen, and their BLACK leaders had not done jack squat to fix it. Their BLACK citizens proceeded to loot and fire automatic weapons at rescuers. They didn’t do it because they were black. They did it because they were CRIMINALS. There just didn’t happen to be any WHITE people living there. I could write a book on WHY there weren’t any white people living there, but we’re not talking about that today.
Stereotypes are also perpetuated by the people that are members of the stereotyped group. People see what is “expected” of them, and they are raised in that environment. The next thing you know, they’re doing the same thing, and the stereotype is once again affirmed.
So here’s my conclusion. If you don’t like that your group is being stereotyped, the first thing to do if you want to shake that is to make sure it’s not accurate. Chris Rock talks about wealth versus rich. If the stereotype is that as soon as you get money you go buy rims, perhaps the way to shake that perception is to… invest. You won’t shake it buy buying rims. That much I know.
If the stereotype is accurate… it’s pointless and silly to try and fight it.