The truth about stereotypes

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  • #2288

    Ric-M30035
    Participant

    I’m gonna get an earful for this one, but isn’t there sometimes truth to stereotypes? Southern racists? Young, black baggy-pants-wearing jerks? Stingy Jews? Studious Asians? Hard-working Mexicans? Sure, some are outdated or totally fabricated, but some, amazingly enough, seem to have some truth to them, on all sides. Are we evil people for generalizing like this, or is it human?

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    Name : Ric-M30035, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 28, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : various occupations, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #25150

    Rich
    Member

    All the stereotypes you list above *do* have some truth to them, but the danger in stereotypes and the undesirable result is what happens when an entire group is judged by them. For example, the stereotype about Jews and money is rooted in true and mostly positive examples, such as the great European banking families like the Rothschilds, and the many Jewish people (Baruch, etc) who had a great influence on American economics. On the other hand, if all Jews were seen like the greedy Shylock in Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ that would be undesirable, just as it would be to assume that all Jews are obsessed with money. Most intelligent people realize that not all Southerners are racists, however they still have the stigma of being the last widespread holdout of the KKK and the legacy of Jim Crow laws to live down. Hard working Mexicans is a very positive stereotype, since most Mexicans (and other Central/South Americans) come to the United States to work, although some of their fellow citizens engender the negative stereotype of being after public assistance without contributing to society. Stereotypes in general are not wrong, especially when they are based on empirical evidence, that is, what one can observe. And that is where most stereotypes come from. For example, most diners in New York are owned by people of Greek background. Although I don’t know why that is, it can be observed and even proven to be true. And yes, it is a perfectly human response to attempt to categorize people. Again, it is only when these categorizations become negative or derogatory to a group that a problem exists.

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    Name : Rich, Gender : M, Age : 25, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Technology consulting, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper class, 
    #42746

    Nelson-A20187
    Participant

    People are not evil for generalizing, the word is ignorant, and ignorance is human. The more you travel, the more you investigate, the more people from different cultures, beliefs, and races you REALLY get to know, the less ignorant you become. You learn that all stereotypes have some truth, but NEVER the whole truth. There are racist southerners, black baggy-pant jerks, cheap jews, brainy asians, and mexicans who work like ants, of course there are. Anyhow, remember that you are limited by your sources of information. Expand those sources and you will soon see that what you thought was a general trait among an entity (culture, race, country, etc.) is just a big or small portion of it.

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    Name : Nelson-A20187, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 32, City : Caracas, State : NA Country : Venezuela, Occupation : Lawyer/Business, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #23568

    Dot
    Member

    I find that usually stereotypes are started to put some organization to things. To categorize, or worse, to label. The negativity happens when we see that a stereotype is present and believe that it’s a part of the individual, or who the individual is. We never dig deeper to find out why the individual seems to portray a ‘sterotype’ (i.e. Why is the white man sexist? Why is the black man angry? Why do black people find it difficult to tip white folks? Why are many Native American’s quiet?) The question can be asked about every stereotype there is. The more we ask, the more we’ll understand.

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    Name : Dot, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : Native American/Caucasian, Religion : Humanist, Age : 33, City : Peru, State : ME Country : United States, Occupation : Social Worker/Student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #33146

    RH30169
    Participant

    I think when you get to know individuals of a group that is stereotyped, you will discover that those stereotypes are generally false. Yes, there are some cultural differences between groups, but individuals make up groups, and every individual is differrent. The ‘truth’ to the stereotypes you mentioned are the truths of individuals, and you could attach the generalization to a person from any group. There are stingy African Americans and studious Mexicans, and young, white baggy-pants-wearing people. Furthermore, most stereotypes were promulgated by European white people during and after colonization as a way of rationalizing their atrocities and de-humanizing the groups they were physically and culturally attacking. Indeed, it is telling that in your post you mention many racial groups except white people (Southern people are not necessarily white). In sum, generalizations about racial and ethnic groups have little truth to them and are basically useless.

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    Name : RH30169, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 27, City : Syracuse, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : law student, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #36582

    ACC25104
    Participant

    So are you really tiny ‘down there’? I’m not trying to insult you, I’m trying to make a point. No matter how much ‘truth’ you or others may believe there is to stereotypes, they do harm people. I always bring up the one about small penises for white men whenever I hear them trying to defend the indefensible or make excuses for various bigotries. But to come straight to the point of your questions, no, a big no that we should all shout from the rooftops. Usually stereotypes are not based on any alleged ‘truth,’ but on falsehoods and misunderstandings and plain old ignorance. Stingy Jews? Actually they had to hoard at times in order to survive, but Jews have one of the best records of any ethnic group when it comes to giving to charities. Young blacks wearing baggy clothes? Actually, they were just imitating us (Mexicans), who have been doing it since the 1920s. Southern racists? Yes, it can be pretty bad, but Dr. King said the worst racism he ever saw was in Chicago. Studious Asians? Not if you’ve ever seen Asian street gangs. Hard-working Mexicans? Because some are here illegally, they are forced to work long hours for almost nothing. But it’s always amazing how many racists can have two contradictory stereotypes at once, both ‘hard-working Mexicans’ and ‘lazy Mexicans.’ Does it make you evil to believe in these stereotypes? Not necessarily, but it does show you’re not really thinking things through. These stereotypes don’t just magically appear as part of human nature. They always have a deliberate purpose, to dehumanize and foster hostility, to divide and conquer. Stereotypes about ‘oversexed’ blacks were used to justify the lynchings of black males and the widespread rapes of black females, for instance.

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    Name : ACC25104, Gender : M, Race : Mexican and American Indian, City : San Antonio, State : TX Country : United States, 
    #34808

    Alex J.
    Member

    Southerners have a reputation for being racists because much of the Southern economy required slave labor. Any ideals which justified slave labor were bound to be accepted. In reality, Pennsylvania has the most hate groups of any state. Jews are known for being stingy because they have historically been the money-lenders and bankers of Europe. This is not due to the culture but anti-semitism. During the Middle Ages, Jews were not permitted to own land nor to act as serfs. Because the Old Testament prohibits Jews from lending to Jews, and thus Christians to Christians, Christian governments encouraged Jews to become money-lenders and merchants, both vital roles in a strong economy. Furthermore, Amsterdam was one of the most religiously tolerant cities of the Middle Ages and was the banking capital of Europe (the Dutch Guilder was the mark by which all value was compared to for many centuries, succeeded by the British Pound, succeeded by the American Dollar). Asians are currently regarded as being studious because immigrant families from poverty have almost always forced their children to be studious (i.e. the Jewish immigrants of the 1930’s). Asians are simply the latest flood of immigrants. It is human nature to generalize because until we know people as individuals we have little else to go on but what we know of their culture.

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    Name : Alex J., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 17, City : Elkins Park, State : PA Country : United States, Occupation : High School student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #29820

    Hope
    Member

    I wish I could cite it specifically, but sometime in the past few months, I read a statistic in either Cosmopolitan or Glamour that said that, basically, Asian men are small, white men are medium and African men are large. There was no mention of Hispanic men.

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    Name : Hope, Gender : Female, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Religion : Jewish, Age : 38, City : Pittsburgh, State : PA Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, 
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