My Opinion on Stereotyping

I think stereotyping needs to end because it only prolongs the misunderstandings and misconceptions that people of different backgrounds have over one another.

I remember from a social issues film I've watched in the past, there was a Indian-American man who described his childhood experiences playing Cowboys and Indians and later, he asked his father what it meant to be an Indian.  He did an Indian war cry afterwards.  His father, surprised that he did so, pulled off into the side of the road in the car and said, "That's not the kind of Indian we are."  Later in the movie the man stated what tribe he originated from.  I think this segment is interesting because it illustrates how stereotyping always ignores the diversity within a race of people.  When the word 'Indian' comes into my mind I may think 'barbaric,' or 'scalping' or 'war crying,' etc. but the problem is that there are different Indian tribes with different backgrounds, different languages, different beliefs, and different customs.  They may not fit into the specific image of 'war crying.'  The stereotypical word 'Indian,' in my opinion, fails to describe how it's further branched out.  Moreover, I believe it's difficult and unnecessary to stereotype a certain race when the category is further divided more because it always misleads someone to believe that that is what a certain race is like.  When someone places a stereotype on others it's important to realize that not all fall into the same category.

The degree of how much of a certain race you are is another interesting subject the film described.  The Hispanic woman in the film talked about how she and her sister were judged by her uncle on how much Hispanic they appeared.  This was interesting to me because it shows stereotyping within a race.  According to this woman, she said that her younger sister appeared more Asian and Indian because of her skin.  She didn't look Hispanic.  Basically, she wasn't 'Hispanic' enough because of her appearance.  What's also frustrating with internal race stereotyping is that people of mixed blood and heritage can be caught up and torn apart as well between races.

To end, stereotyping only prolongs the misconceptions over others.  It builds walls of misunderstandings in which it prohibits people to open up to others outside the wall.  I think both sides of the wall, stereotyping outside the wall as well as within, are both to blame for the existence of stereotyping because stereotyping gives an easy label placed upon others.  It's overly simplified.  It may however help those who don't understand others to remember a generalized idea of one's specific race and culture.  But, remembering only one 'image' of a certain race doesn't define the whole.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Here's a mini response essay I did for a sociological film.  A topic on Stereotyping, Prejudices, and Racial Profiling.

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Ruth Lovejoy's picture

I agree with you stereotyping is wrong-great piece!