The problem with stereotypes is not the stereotype at all

December 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Posted in Ah C'mon!, Don't be a Dummy, Education | 5 Comments

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Because I am sure there are people from every group on the planet that embodies a stereotype, however these people are not the representative of their group. There are others. There are alternatives. That is the problem. There’s no balance. No population of any people is a monolith and it is mind-boggling to think that in a a world with so many choices, so many colors, flavors, creeds, walks of life, and “alternative” way of life that people still hold on to the belief that stereotypes should still pervade our media mainframes. There were some who had a problem with Antoine Dodson’s initial news appearance. In the station’s follow-up, they addressed the outcry about “questioning the decision to let people like him share their story, because it reflects poorly on the community” and the reporter countered saying “censoring people like Antoine is far worse.” Antoine admitted he was just being himself, not trying to portray a stereotype. He is who he is and no one should fault him for it. He’s not the problem. The stereotype isn’t either. It is the lack of non-stereotypes that I cringe at.

More than anything, these depictions are just frigin boring. Seriously. It is lackluster, dusty, uncreative and unimaginative. You have no capacity to learn, to grow to educate yourself that you simply lean on archaic ideas to describe, millions of people on this planet? Does that even make any sense? I have said it before and I will say it again, there is a trend of crying “racism” every time a group of people finds something unfavorable. Not everything is racist, or meant to be racist. There are many factors to consider before playing the “racist” card. Intent and ignorance. If the intent wasn’t malicious (and that is very easy to gauge) then I can’t legitimately call it racism. If the person is ignorant or had little to no exposure to people of color then I can’t call you a racist. I can freely call your point of view offensive and say you’re uneducated, unrefined, uncultured and brutish. Perhaps even a heathen. But not a racist. Logically, you have to pick and choose these battles because the battle for squashing stereotypes is a losing one and pretty pointless. You can only combat it by showing something different.

I remember my sister was watching a commercial for a children’s movie and when it was done, she turned to me visibly upset and said “why does the Black woman always have to be screaming and have a nasty attitude?” I didn’t have an answer for her. She was 15 and noticed and wasn’t happy about it. I just had to remind her that we are so much more than these minority archetypes. We are major. There is so much more to a Hispanic woman, to a Black man, to an Asian, Arab, Native American than meets anyone’s eyes. Unfortunately it won’t be shown but it’s up to the individual to diversify their life experiences with these different types of people. But if they don’t, well surely the individual will believe every tall guy plays basketball whilst slapping bitches in their Range Rover after making it rain with a stolen purse. Why not? They know no better.

I am dying to know who pitches these ideas. I need first and last names because I need to chat with you for a few minutes. What genius said “HEY! Let’s show an angry, bitter, black woman to sell our insurance! Whatdya guys think?” Who is their target audience? What kind of marketing technique is this? You just alienated and offended any person with a brain. Did you stop to brainstorm how this may affect your bottom line? There were no people of color to flag these “ideas”? I mean, hey maybe you didn’t know the loud-mouth, naggy, tongue-wagging black woman was a stereotype and was offensive to oh everyone but of course there was no one there to tell you. And lastly just how brilliant is your staff to conjure up these banal depictions? I just don’t get it. What the hell is wrong with you people? Explore other options.

And I am just tired of the “well if you guys are so mad about these stereotypes, why do you still listen to rap music cuz black guys say it all the time.” Yes, because all those rappers and comedians are every black guy on the planet and representative of “all black guys.” And yes you just showed me just how diverse your circle of friends are since we are all sitting happy and content and approve and never protest these issues.

I still stand behind my belief that NO amount of diversity training, meetings, “classes” will change attitudes. If Linda from the Mid-West was brought up in a color-less world with only mainstream media telling her “this is how non-whites act, look at how funny, spicy, violent, poor, athletic, good at math, good at dancing, they are.” You really think once she moves to New York and gets her corporate job, a few “diversity training classes” will undo 20+ years of subconscious race conditioning? I’ll wait.

It is about life experience. Children of color,more often than not, are attuned to those race-relation dynamics from the moment they’re born. No amount of “diversity training” can teach THAT. Why? Because they are forced to live in their “colored world” and the “normal world.” This is why it is crucial, to have a diverse staff in ANYTHING. You’re probably screaming wait a minute White people can be educated on race relations too! I agree wholeheartedly. But only if they choose too, and that is the difference. People of color do not have the luxury of choice. It is just the way it is. Just like I can choose to educate myself on how Mid-Westerners live, how Southerners live, how non-immigrants live, it is about learning about others that are different that you and appreciating, not “tolerating” those factors that make us different.

“Post-racial” makes about as much sense as a soup sandwich. Stop saying this. We will never live in a “post-racial” world. Never. That is not pessimism, that is reality. You know why? Because we live in a world full of humans and humans will find ANYTHING to separate and categorize each other to then harm each other using it. Over the past year I’ve been seeing tons of “findings” “research” “studies” and “observations” masquerading as new information on the lack of color in x,y,z in our brand new “post-racial world.” *Snorts, rolls eyes, and goes back to filing nails* I live my life with these hard truths. Don’t feel sorry for me, just don’t take 50+ years as a human being on this planet to realize it. Shoulda asked the brown girl. But you know why you couldn’t ask a brown girl? You don’t know any. And that is the saddest part of it all. We’re pretty awesome, just as awesome as your other friends. Your loss.

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  1. The media use to control this world in regards to what cultures were out there and how we observe them. Also our teachers & text books introduced us to different stereotypes. Now that we have Youtube.com, Facebook.com and Twitter.com you are able to see how certain people operate on a whole. Sadly enough we ( Black people) mimic our examples of success. Hence black actors, athlete’s, comedians and now our president. ( Surprised you did’t reference him ) I think it has everything to do with FAMILY. If your family makes it their business to expose you to certain cultures and tell you about different things of that nature it won’t be such a shock. Example; The movie “Blindside” which is a true story. They took in the young black man but never had any idea of a black mans life style in the projects. They didt understand why he never had a bed, a place to sleep, no parents, warm clothing, sleeping in a gym etc…!

    Stereotypes ( Is judging a book by it’s cover ) What do you expect people to think when they see a majority of our people acting in a certain way. Not all but most. What do they say about a Spanish community: Coronas,lost of babies,men fixing cars and thick hips. Is it true? Sure you can find they like doing all of the above but what culture does not. ( As a Jamaican I know we do ) Some cultures do it at a different pace thats all. Also they do it under different financial means. If your family teaches you to treat people in a certain way then you won’t need the mental training.

    Jews have gone through Genocide,We have gone through slavery & genocide, Native Americans lost a whole country. Not to go off topic but a man’s history does not define him, but he does not forget who punished his previous generation. Stereotype has been exposed on a different level now that we have a mini recession. If you ask me some people been in a recession never had money now everyone knows how they feel. Its just dishearten that across the board every1 is being effected i.e. wealthily people also. It’s hard to say I won’t go into a building full of white people and expect to be ready to be judged or attacked. Thats judging the situation before they even greet me. Laws can’t change that, money can’t change that,classes can’t change that,reading your past history can’t change that and media can’t even change that. ( They have attacked this topic many times) one thing can change it family: A father saying go into this meeting with a positive mind set. But be strong because their interview process is tough. Or the same father coudl say ” You going to a a all white company you are at a disadvantage go prove them black men are smart”

    Come on if you want to change anything it starts at home. Broken homes leave space for media,friends,racism and lack or moral/religion to enter a a home or a persons mind. Most people don’t care because their living their life not knowing their not being exposed to certain things. Its an excuse to say we are forced to learn about other stereotypes. I can choose to hang out anywhere I want. I can choose to be who I want. I never smoked weed in my life. Being a black/Caribbean man you know how rare that is. But people would automatically assume I have because I live in Brooklyn and hang with people who smoke all the time. You can choose your life stye its up to you.

    In all your points are valid and reflect what the issues are but where are the facts to fix the issues. I challenge you to argue a point on how to change it. i admire you gave your opinion. Good write hope you understand my views.

    • “Majority of people acting that way” That’s the problem. You DO NOT see a majority of people acting any sort of way. What you see is MOSTLY stereotypes. That’s the difference. If you only know 10 Latino people and 6 of them like Coronas is it a fair assumption that ALL Latinos like Coronas? That makes no sense. And as a Latino I guess I’m anomaly cuz I don’t like Corona? It takes diverse groups infiltrating the system and changing these depictions. It takes more ppl crowding these industries. It takes more than one Black/Asiam?Latino filmmaker telling our stories and it is up to US to support them instead of complaining and still pissing our money on the exact things we complain about.
      And I just cannot subscribe to “our teachers teach us this, my parents did this.” Take two sets of notes homey, and take responsibility for YOUR life, and that’s exactly my point. We will be spoonfed every type of BS 6 ways to sunday. Seek alternatives. Everything I know to this day wasn’t just taken from my teacher’s mouths. Sure, that was helpful but there are things called books, there or other things called people and other things called experiences.
      Reference the pres for what? How does he fit into this? Oh cuz he’s another “example” of transcending stereotypes? It’s tired. It’s old. There are normal everyday ppl who do it. THAT is what I’m focused on. Why would it be strange you don’t smoke weed? Perhaps diversify YOUR friend pool, bc your comments show that you perpetuate the same stereotypes you’re trying to transcend.

  2. You are so right Sis. It is sad but so true. I try to make light of the situation (with my sarcastic pisces-soul) and tell people when I throw a piece of paper in the garbage and I miss. “Don’t believe the stereotype! All Black Men can’t play basketball” and I also tell them, “Guess what I can swim too.”

    You know I try to stay optimistic but people only change when they get tired of seeing things the same way. The good thing I guess is that when the masses of people are ready those of who already there can point the bandwagon in the right direction. Right? Keep it up. Peace.

  3. […] Related: I’m not African-American, I’m Black Related: My Girl Crush Related: Dude, the whole concept of race is made-up :rolls eyes and walks away: Related: Black Americans DO Have Culture Related: The problem with stereotypes, is not the stereotype at all […]

  4. […] Related: I’m not African-American, I’m Black Related: My Girl Crush Related: Dude, the whole concept of race is made-up :rolls eyes and walks away: Related: Black Americans DO Have Culture Related: The problem with stereotypes, is not the stereotype at all […]


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