Est. May 2008

29 December, 2013

Stereotypes

What is a stereotype? 

According to Oxford, it’s ‘a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing’ and/or 'a person or thing that conforms to a stereotypical image’.  It therefore strikes me that stereotypes are learned behavior.  

So how do we learn this mental behavior?  Well, to borrow and paraphrase a line from the movie The Silence of the Lambs, ‘We begin by stereotyping what we see every day’. What I mean by that is we learn stereotypes by repetition: the more often we’re exposed to a stereotype, the more it sinks into our heads.

Now, think about some of the stereotypes we have these days: that black people are lazy, prefer welfare checks to work, who scream ‘racism’ at every opportunity; that Asians are all brilliant; that Hispanics are indolent; that homosexuals are all limp-wristed lispers who cry ‘homophobia’ every time their feelings are hurt; that Christians are maniacal anti-abortion psychos who hate everybody and aren’t afraid to say so; that Republicans are all rich white people who are backed by other rich, white people; and so on and so forth.  

Why do we believe these?  Because we’re exposed to repetitious news which simply reinforces these ideas; you don’t often hear about hard-working black or Hispanic people, there’s barely a mention of average-to-dumb Asians, almost nothing regarding quiet, soft-spoken, live-and-let-live homosexuals, nary a whisper about poor, non-white Republicans.

Now, I’m willing to bet that as you read my list of stereotypes, you were putting names and faces to them.  Look carefully at those names and faces, then remember that we’re told time and time again that ‘the majority of these folks aren’t like that at all’.

Well, then, explain to me why these majorities aren’t denouncing the minorities who are, inadvertently or deliberately, reinforcing the stereotype?  I mean publicly denouncing them?  Why aren’t we hearing and seeing these majorities banding together, standing before microphones, going on talk-shows, and showing up on mainstream-media programming telling people that those who are speaking for them in the public forum aren’t speaking for them?  After all, they keep telling us there are more of them than there are of their stereotyping spokes-folks; they ought to be able to drown them out, at the very least.

We’re told time and again that stereotyping people and groups is bad because, as the definition says, it’s a ‘oversimplified image or idea’.  Yet it seems the people we hear from most are the people who fit those stereotypes to a T.

If people are corked off about stereotypes, they need to stand up to the people in their own groups who keep reinforcing those ideas.

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