One of the reasons for racism is because of all the stereotypes that people have for various races/cultures. The stereotypes have been ingrained in people for years. Thus the issue of stereotypes must be addressed if we are going to look to solutions to stop racism.
Why are there stereotypes?
Stereotypes are Taught
Children growing up in certain communities are taught within their race/culture various stereotypes of other races/cultures. They may not be taught directly but they are still taught. A parent or friend does not have to literally teach the stereotypes but by the comments they make the child learns about the stereotypes. If a child keeps hearing certain phrases over and over again they will start to repeat them themselves and will start to believe them. Children growing up in a black ghetto are going to hear stereotypes about white people. Children growing up in the South are going to hear stereotypes about black people. Once the child has that stereotype in their mind there will always be the opportunity to see someone reflecting the stereotype. The problem is the child is not able to separate that one person from all the other people of that race.
Stereotypes Among All Races/Cultures
Every single culture has stereotypes of other cultures. To deny that a culture does not have any stereotypes does not break the problem of stereotypes, it only creates an environment for the stereotypes to continue.
Stereotypes Have Some Truth in Them At Times
One of the challenges of stopping stereotypes is that at times there are some truth in them. Again you can always find somebody that fits the stereotype and thus confirm in your mind the stereotype is true. Consider the image in this article. Are the police officers going to donut shops? Yes, of course. Do all police go to donut shops? No. Is it wrong for them to go to a donut shop? No, of course not. However, if no officers went to donut shops there would not be any stereotype, and if there was, nobody would believe it. People believe it because there are officers that go to donut shops. The problem with the stereotype is that the assumption is the police officer is not doing his job when he may be on lunch, touching base with owner, etc.
If a person has had the same experience with a certain race/culture over and over again, they are coming to come to the conclusion that their experience is overall accurate for that race/culture. To deny this would mean one would have to deny their experience. Their experience has proven there are certain stereotypes that are true.
To deny that there can be some truth in a stereotype does not solve the problem with stereotypes. Why? Because when a person of a certain race or culture denies any truth to a stereotype then it seems they are not willing to acknowledge that their culture has had problems with some within their culture reflecting that stereotypes. It appears they are just justifying the stereotyped behavior. If a person is in denial the danger is that they could be reflecting the stereotype.
Overall nobody wants to admit that there can be some truth to a stereotype. Why? Because stereotypes are mostly seen in a negative light instead of the positive side of the stereotype. Why? Because those who are racist make sure the stereotype is seen in a negative way to promote and strengthen their racism.
If enough people from any race/culture all have an overall similar experience with a race/culture, there has to be acknowledgement that there is some truth in the experience that leads to a stereotype. We all have talked with a variety of people who can give many stories of having a similar experience with certain cultures. Thus there has to be a certain level of truth in the stereotype.
Truth in Some Stereotypes but Not Accurate
There can be truths in regards to stereotypes in the sense of what is seen is true but the conclusion can be totally inaccurate.
The sterotype of police officers and donuts is an example. It goes further than officers and eating donuts. Anyone can see police officers hanging around cafes, restaurants, coffee houses enough times to start to believe that officers hang around those places often. But the problem is the assumption that takes place next. They must be lazy and not doing their job. Most of the time this is probably not true but most don’t think it through all the way.
Statistically speaking percentage there is a major crime problem with blacks in certain realms. So seeing a black person at night in an alley by a vehicle playing with the door would may assume because of statistics they are trying to break into the vehicle. The truth is they are trying to find the right key to open their car door. Again, wrong assumptions.
The problem with stereotypes is that what may appear to be true and fulfilling a stereotype may not be accurate at all based upon the facts. Facts matter.
The Good Side of Stereotypes
Is there a good side of stereotypes? Yes, if you understand what we mean. Let’s give examples.
____ are loud. How about instead seeing them as being expressive.
____ are cheap. How about seeing it as them being thrifty.
____ are always victims. How about seeing it as they are overcoming many barriers.
____ are lazy. How about seeing it as they are not concerned at having to be doing something all the time.
Experience Means Something
Our experiences mean something. We all have experiences with various races/cultures. Those experiences are real. Whether they are good or bad experiences they are real life experiences. Now our experiences may be with only a certain segment of a culture and may not represent everyone in that culture but again our experience is real. If wherever we go, and no matter who we interact with in a certain race/culture, we have the same experience we will form our own stereotypes. To deny that we don’t do that would be to lie. We all form opinions based upon our experiences. It will be difficult to break the stereotypes if we do not have different experiences.
Of course the danger is that our interpretation of our experiences may be tainted by the stereotypes we heard or were taught. We may look at our experiences in the light of those stereotypes. We thus need to make sure we do not interpret our experiences by pre-conceived ideas.
Individuals Can Be Very Sincere, not Racist, and Have Stereotypes
Because a person has some stereotypes based upon their experiences does not make them racists, bigots, haters. They just have to acknowledge that just because of their overall experiences seem to point to stereotypes, they must look at individual in the light of who they truly are, not what their own stereotype may be in their mind. There are always exceptions.
I personally have been around and worked with people from a multitude of races/cultures. More directly with some specific cultures. I can personally say as a person who is not racist or prejudice that I have seen some very common character traits of certain cultures that has been repeated over and over again. So I have some strong stereotypes. But I am intelligent enough to know not everyone from certain cultures are the same as everyone else from their culture. I have personally had individuals from various cultures acknowledged that some of the stereotypes of their culture is very true. Sadly however, many within these cultures continue to lie and deny some of the stereotypes that are true. Thus they themselves will never be proactive at breaking the stereotype.
Some examples of True Stereotypes
A majority of the cab drivers in Seattle or non-white. True
A majority of the owners of 7-Eleven are non-white. True.
A majority of the tech support people for many countries are East Indian descent. True
Many whites in the South still have prejudices towards Blacks. True
Many blacks do not have an education. True.
We could list many more but some group will ultimately get offended. Instead of seeing the behavior leading to a stereotype associated with their culture they will deny the behavior. Thus helping to fuel prejudice and racism instead of breaking the cycle of it.
Why Is It Important to Recognize Some Stereotypes are True?
Because if we know there are some stereotypes of our own culture are true and the stereotype is not a good one, we can make a conscience choice to not act, behave, or live fulfilling the stereotype. Instead we can make the decision to break that stereotype in our life. That will be our next article. Breaking Stereotypes.
So in our next post we will talk about how to break stereotypes. As long as we make judgments upon stereotypes there will be racism. We must break the cycle.
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Racism in America-The Solution
Is There Still Racism in America? Part Two
Why is There Still Racism in America? Part Three
Solution One-Acknowledgment of Racism, Part Four
Solution Two-Addressing Stereotypes, Part Five
Solution Three-Breaking Stereotypes, Part Six
Solution Four-Identity in Christ, Part Seven
Solution Five-Expose It, Part Eight
Solution Six-Police and Racism, The Solution, Part Nine
Ben Carson on Black Lives Matter, Part Ten
Black Lives Matter and Racism, Part Eleven
Black Lives Matter-All, Part Twelve
Blue Lives Matter, Part Thirteen
All Lives Matter, Part Fourteen
White Privilege, Part Fifteen
Solution Seven-Focus on Unity, Part Sixteen
Solution Eight-The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Part Seventeen
Racism in America-Conclusion, Part Eighteen