Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

Combating the stereotype habit is just like any other tendency, or addiction. First you should understand how habits are constructed. Habits are just patterns followed repeatedly enough to where it’s almost second nature. It takes three characteristics to make up a habit; knowing how, knowing why, and having the drive to do so. If you can eliminate any one of these traits, you eliminate the habit.

If someone knows why people stereotype and wants to stereotype people, but doesn’t know how to stereotype, it’s not a habit.

If someone knows how to stereotype and wants to stereotype people, but doesn’t know why the do it, it’s not a habit.

If someone knows how and why they stereotype people, but they don’t want to, it’s not a habit.

I will be the first to admit that this is much more easily said than it is done. It is very hard to break people from the habit of stereotyping, just as it is for any other habit because it’s about reconditioning the mind to do something that took years to discipline itself into doing. However it is this simple and you can go about breaking the habit in different ways. You can counter any of the three with a new habit. Having to re-consider why something is done is an easy approach. Commonly, when people are exposed to new reasoning on “why”, they soon loose the drive to do something as well. The how and drive are the hard characteristics to topple, particularly the drive.

Even more, how do you break the habit of an entire nation and society? One theory that has proven effective is disaster. When 9/11 happened most people lost sight of what they saw in groups of people. Everyone lent a helping hand and pulled through the catastrophe. Most people lost sight of why and for a moment in history (until the blame game) people were united in an effort to help their fellow man and woman regardless of what they looked like. As beautiful as it was, it’s just not practical. We cannot have a catastrophe every month until the American people are conditioned. By then there simply wouldn’t be enough people to care.

In my opinion a more practicul start to the solution is attacking advertisers and the media. It sounds so rebellious but when you look at it, they play off the most stereotypes just to push what they’re offering on groups of people. Television networks like BET, Mtv, and LMN play on groups of people of race, age, and gender. Products and advertisers use ways to market toward people all the time. Is it me or is every product marketed towards African-Americans playing urban music in the background? It’s funny and holds some truth, like stereotypes, but look at how serious it is and it’s effectivness. I really hope I have shed some light on the subject and the small steps we can take toward helping the issue. It’s a shame America has so far to go in this struggle. My search for understanding on this subject is far from complete and if you feel I’m lacking in some of things I say, feel free to tell me.  Next time you have a chance, think of an ethnicity and what first comes to mind when you think of it, then talk to someone of the descent. It’s cool to see what you have in common in contrast to what you may already be conditioned to thinking.

What problem can you think of that most people do but most people don’t do anything about? No, it’s not laughing when seniors drool. “Ill be short and sweet…lol…stereotypes!!!” was a topic suggested by a friend of mine so lets talk.

Stereotypes are used by just about everyone who doesn’t live under a rock both mentally and verbally. I say it’s one of the most talked about things but never acted upon because of the vast amount of people who use stereotypes everyday versus those who see it as deviance and doing something about it. It’s almost a new age taboo that’s become such a standard it falls shy of being an everyday commodity.

Stereotypes are harsh generalizations about an entire categorie of people. These  irrational views give people rigid views of groups of people when really there is no direct evidence that people of that categorie should share that generalized trait. Such views as white youth being prone to taking lives in retaliation to bullying or black youth being prone to stealing are so conditioned in society that it is often joked about and those who fall into the categories are exploited. This conditioning builds unwanted attention to anyone who outward appearance fits the description. This also allows for some to get away with deviance when they don’t fit the type by exploiting the idea of stereotypes.  There is also such a thing as positive stereotypes, where a particular group is seen as possessing a good trait among other groups. These stereotypes, such as people of asian descent being good at math or African Americans are better dancers, put an unwanted strain on someone who doesn’t fit the portrayal, or status quo.

Stereotypes, or prejudices, also leads to a scapegoating. Scapegoating is when people of a particular catagorie unfairly blame people of another catagorie for their own problems. Such as when people of lower middle and the working class may feel strain and notice financial change in their world, they may blame people on welfare or even immagrant workers for the strain on jobs and financial woes. It all traces back to those irrational views of a group of people.

So why do we do it so much? The answer is hierarchy (Short and sweet). Hierarchy simply is a system of rank in any society and stereotypes only help to inforce this idea. By enforcing that people in one categorie do one thing and people in another do differently creates a classification, or logical order, of everyone in society. For example, If people commonly agree that African Americans are lazy, what’s going to stop a future employer from turning someone of African descent down for a future job or referring him to a lower, more subordinating employment? If people commonly don’t see Euro-American males in business suits as thieves, what’s to stop a store owner from not watching the guy in the suit and paying attention to the working class Mexican shopping? Stereotypes form and invoke the structure of people’s standing and class in society. When some people have noticed the system, they play up or play down parts of their lives to stand apart from those who are seen as “fitting” the stereotypes.

So what can we do? I was struck recently when my uncle commented on one of blogs and said,”…What do you think of when I say the words “Apache-Indian”? Do you think Doctor, Lawyer, Businessman or Statesman? I would guess you don’t and I ask you to ask yourself why? Your answer is the key to truly understanding and fixing the problem…” It wasn’t until then that I realized the conditioning and habit society has with stereotypes. BUT I am a firm believer that habits can be broken….