What Can We Do About Stereotypes?

Facing stereotypes head-on in order to understand their negative effects

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What Can We Do About Stereotypes?

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What are Stereotypes?

Most people have heard the word “stereotype” but don’t really know what it means.

The word stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people.”

A stereotype is a mistaken idea or belief many people have about a thing or group that is based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or only partly true, says Wikipedia Dictionary.  Our society doesn’t realize how damaging stereotyping people can be and that stereotypes need to be dealt with head-on in order to stop them from becoming worse. Stereotyping is a natural instinct, and our brains like to put the people it sees and meets in a little box; however, before we start putting people in those boxes, we must take some time to think about what effect that approach can have on our perceptions of others. I have interviewed five people who face stereotyping every day in order to bring some understanding of the damage stereotypes can have on us all.

Elizabeth Ruvalcaba

What do stereotypes say about you?

Elizabeth Ruvalcaba selfie.

Most stereotypes that I’ve heard recently just like on the news and everything is that ‘Oh Mexicans are here to steal our jobs, oh they bring drugs over and cross the border, they just cross so they can steal our jobs and everything.’ But that’s not actually really true. Most of us like the majority, 99% don’t even do drugs, just like bring them over. Mainly because my dad was working on a horse farm here and because they wanted us to get a better education, than over there.
Why do you think people make stereotypes?
So they can feel like at ease about themselves because most people they don’t know that much, so if they think something about someone else that they don’t really know, they’ll feel more at peace think they know what they’re saying or doing.
How do stereotypes affect you or daily life?
For me, they don’t actually affect me that much because the group of friends, the people I hang out with, they just don’t care. They’re just at ease, they are really chill about it but other people get stereotyped a lot. I don’t know about that one, it doesn’t affect me much.
Are all of the stereotypes true or are they all false?
Most of them are false but not all of them are. For like an example, they Mexicans love tacos of course we do. We make the best food of course we do, but I’ve never heard that one but it’s true.

Yuni Wolf

Yuni Wolf selfie.

What do stereotypes say about you?
So my stereotypes are, when I was in Japan, I’m half Japanese and American. In Japan, I don’t look like a Japanese so people thought I’m a foreigner but I was born and raised there. So I actually, I am Japanese.
Why do you think people make stereotypes?
I think people make stereotypes because people don’t know their backgrounds and their history so they will assume where they’re from or what they are like without proof.
How do stereotypes affect you or daily life?
The stereotypes affect me for example, when I was little I couldn’t speak any English at all, but people assumed that I could speak English. When we were taking English class people would ask me questions and stuff that I couldn’t answer, I guess. So I hated myself at that time, I had pressure.
Are all of the stereotypes true or are they all false?
Some of them are true. For example, people think Japanese eat sushi every single day but we don’t. The same thing like with Americans only eating a hamburger every day some people don’t. Some stereotypes are true, I think lots of stereotypes are false. We shouldn’t think what they’re like without any proof or without knowing their backgrounds.

Molly Engdahl

What do stereotypes say about you?

Molly Engdahl selfie.

I think with stereotypes, I’m Asian, it’s definitely gonna be you have a 4.0  GPA or really close to a 4.0 which in a way makes sense. Because a lot of Asian like what people see in movies is that strict about good grades, so logically it makes sense as a stereotype. That you are gonna have a 4.0 GPA.
Why do you think people make stereotypes?
I think all stereotypes come from a source that of truth to a certain degree or else why would there be a stereotype. Like all people stereotype, most people might stereotype that guys don’t wash their hands or something which isn’t exactly true but it probably comes from so many times you wash your hands no, ask the girl well of course. I think they get that stereotype from TV and social media.
How do stereotypes affect you or daily life?
I think for me, it kinda sounds silly, it’s a mixture of middle school and high school reasoning. I have a best friend that is Hispanic and we have been asked if we were siblings. We joked around about it with people because I guess we just pass with the same like Hispanic and Asian. They do both have darker skin, they both have probably have darker eyes, black hair most likely and we are also kinda the same hight. Lots of people just naturally see it, but at the same time do I not look Asian enough maybe so it affects me when it comes to smiles or pictures, just make sure it is as natural as possible so you can just see that this person is Asian and this person is Hispanic.
Are all of the stereotypes true or are they all false?
I think the majority are true in the sense of Asians do tend to be, not necessarily petite, when you think of Asian people you don’t really think of someone that’s overweight. Almost all Asian I’ve seen in person and I myself are definitely not overweight, we are fine. People ask if we’re eating enough or your face looks smaller, or something like that. I think so also grades because in middle school I was mainly a straight A student and then in high school, I had been basically really close to straight A’s so in the sense that this stereotype is true not necessarily stay straight A throughout high school. I say the majority of the stereotypes are actually true.

Emily Whalen selfie.

Emily Whalen

What do stereotypes say about you?
I have a disease. I’m a sinner. I’m gonna turn people gay. I’m gross, etc.
Why do you think people make stereotypes?
Because they are uneducated and closed minded.
How do stereotypes affect you or daily life?
It affects my friend groups, it affects the people that I hang out with outside of school. It affects what my family thinks of me and it affects what my friends think of me or how other people think of me.
Are all of the stereotypes true or are they all false?
No, they are very false. I can’t turn people gay. I’m not gross. I’m not a sinner.

Levi Williams

Levi Williams selfie.

What do stereotypes say about you?
The LGBT have like a stereotype. Like if boys are like girly or like to put on makeup or paint their nails then they are just obviously assumed as gay.
Why do you think people make stereotypes?
I don’t know.
How do stereotypes affect you or daily life?
That has an effect on me because like I act not as manly as masculine as like the other boys so everyone assumes that I’m gay. Stereotypes affect me because you have to like watch what you do in public, so people don’t bully you or mess with you so you have fit in with the stereotype, that people based around like boys and girls and stuff.
Are all of the stereotypes true or are they all false?
I think the stereotypes are false because I think people shouldn’t, like, label you as something. I feel like everyone has their own unique personality and shouldn’t be based off of one specific thing.
For more information visit https://www.aauw.org/2014/08/13/why-stereotypes-are-bad/