This is my first ever blog post, so I’m not entirely sure how to do this, but I do have something very important to say, so here goes…
Recently I have been witnessing, in the media, the use of stereotypes in ads. This is not a new problem; it has been going on for decades. There is no easy answer to this problem, but we can start by rejecting stereotypes whenever we see them.
Stereotypes are assumptions about people that are formed from personal biases and preferences. They are not the same as first impressions, which are often impermanent and quickly formed. Stereotypes are long-lasting and often quite harmful.
A very common stereotype is one of gender. Women are often portrayed as inferior to men, unable to do the jobs that men can do, or as less clinically minded. Considering I have a doctor for a mother, this last point is obviously not true.
Some of the most common stereotypes are often to do with race, such as African- or Asian-American, which often portray them with a common set of traits that may or may not be very accurate – often they are not very accurate at all. Asian-Americans are often portrayed as studious, tidy, but without interpersonal skills. African-Americans are often portrayed as simple-minded, less educated, and violent.
As you can imagine, these stereotypes make the lives of these people very difficult indeed. Below is a link to a Ted Talk by a lady named Canwen Xu, who talks about what it was like to grow up in the region of Idaho, South Dakota and North Dakota, and the discrimination she encountered.
I Am Not Your Asian Stereotype | Canwen Xu | TEDxBoise
As a real example of this, my word processor doesn’t even acknowledge Canwen’s name as an actual word.
Stereotypes severely hurt our culture and our relationships with other people if they are even just a little bit different. They demean people who are not white, or male, or even of a certain culture. We, as humans, naturally form stereotypes, but this impulse only harms us.
We should judge people on their merit, not the color of their skin, not the food they eat or the clothes they wear, not the way they talk or look or act. This is not just good manners, it’s being a kind human being. And who doesn’t want to be kind?
So if you interact with anyone who’s different, don’t ostracize them. Accept them, because they might have something to teach you. They might end up being a wonderful friend.