Inevitably a part of human nature, making assumptions allows us to associate certain traits with certain characteristics. Our ability to do this is truly remarkable! With this gift, we can connect, act and communicate easily with a broad range of people.
For example, you may avoid the idea of ever jamming out to Bad and Boujee with one of your teachers, but probably feel perfectly comfortable getting down with your besties.
In a sense, this too is stereotyping.
As you can imagine, stereotyping can get us out of some awkward situations. However, there is a fine line between positive and negative stereotyping.
Stereotypes takes a sour turn when we prioritize association over individuality.
Although we all bear certain similarities, human beings are individuals. We quickly take offense when we are not seen this way. No one likes to be inaccurately interpreted. Especially when the interpretation is derived from a shallow basis such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, weight or sexual orientation. A person is far more complex than a single characteristic.
I like to categorize negative stereotypes into 2 types:
Stigma is gross. It's something we all have within us, but it's gross. The goal of this blog is to break down the stigmas that prevent inclusion. Acceptance of a diverse society means breaking down stigmas. This is a difficult task, especially when some of our stigmas can be subconscious.
The video at the beginning of the post is a prime example of ignorance. The man did not mean to offend the woman by proclaiming his love for kimchi. His statement wasn't by any means malicious, but it does indicate his prioritization of association over individuality. He surmised that the woman's first language wasn't English due to her Asian appearance and categorized her as an outsider. He believed that she was less of an American than him.
So how do we stop stereotyping?
There isn't a way to completely eradicate the nature of stereotyping, but we can lessen it. It all comes down to limiting our hastiness to jump to conclusions.
Treat everyone as an individual. Judge them independently. Although you can use previous judgments as inference, do not let them automatically determine your conclusion.
Describe a time you were stereotyped. How did it make you feel?
(answer in comment section)
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