The Dark Side of Stereotypes

During undergrad, I took a class called the Psychology of Judgment and Decision-making. The point of this class was to inform everyone that stereotypes, no matter how absurd, served a societal benefit and allowed humans to exercise a survival mechanism. Although a good argument can be made that these stereotypes would not have emerged unless a vast number of stereotypees actually adhered to them, it appears that an equally compelling argument can be made for the other side; namely, that blacks, indians, hispanics, and asians, are getting the short end of the stick, no pun intended.

Albert Einstein tried to explain the theory of relativity as best he could. Unfortunately for us, we can’t understand quantum physics as easily as he could. If old Albs was still alive today, he would probably use shitty cliches like “time flies when you’re having fun” to explain the relativity of time. My understanding of the theory is this: you feel happy because you are comparing that feeling to when you were sad. If you were to compare being sad to when you were depressed, you would probably feel better, seeing as it is all relative to each other. This can be applied to pain, emotional feelings, and most recently, stereotypes.

The stereotype for black people is that they are well-endowed when it comes to their reproductive organs. My black friends jokingly argue that it is due to a balanced diet of watermelon and chicken, but we will get to that later. You should ask yourself however, wouldn’t it suck to be a black person with an average sized penis? It appears that this stereotype has created a certain standard to which not all black people can afford to meet. Now, an asian person, with the same sized penis as my previous example, would probably not fall short of their stereotypical standard. This is due to the fact that Asians are stereotypically known as having small penises. It is all relative and our preconceived notions establish the bar that we compare people to.

Some people even go out of their way to avoid acting in a stereotypical manner altogether. This is detrimental to our society and I frown upon it. Black people shouldn’t be afraid of wearing doo-rags, acting niggardly at restaurants, listening to rap, buying Cadillacs with rims, eating chicken, wearing a weave or saying the word “trifling” more than the average human being should. Similarly, asians should not be embarrassed about eating rice, making shitty porn, and being extremely smart. They earned their reputation in this “dog eat dog” world.

Stereotypes make people self-conscious about themselves. From the jewish person who tips extra at a restaurant to the indian who exclaims “no curry, please” when ordering food, it appears that stereotypical reputations make stereotypees behave on a polar extreme level to subconsciously prove that they are not stereotypical. As far as normative statements go, I don’t think it should be like this. Fuck what everyone else thinks. The stereotypes aren’t what’s wrong with people. It is the judgmental tendencies of society that’s to blame. We have come to live in a world where everything is a constant popularity contest and everyone is constantly fighting to gain approval from people who, in all reality, do not matter. We emulate the actors we see on television and dress according to what is popular in our contemporary culture. Inevitably, we are all fighting to be clones.

Even our notions of aesthetic beauty are flawed. I once read about a study where scientists compiled all of the faces of an enormous test group and assigned numerical values to key features such as: distance between lips and chin, distance between eyes, etc. The subjects were then instructed to choose the most beautiful face out of six choices. After months of repeating this exercise, the scientists found that the most “average” looking face was the one that was perceived as most beautiful, further adding to my “we’re all striving to be clones” point.

To conclude, I want to share the following. Recently, I was at Wal-Mart with a friend of mine and we saw an african american gentleman wearing dread locks with his shirt off. I asked my friend “Is that guy more likely to be an entrepreneur or a crack drug lord?” Without hesitation, my friend spat out “hahaha a drug lord!” It took him a second to realize the intent of my question. All too often, we base our conclusions on popular stereotypes instead of any logical reasoning. My point for asking this question is simple, the United States is notorious for its entrepreneurs. The Observer ranked the United States in the top 3 most entrepreneurial countries in the world. It is not hard to see why, as there are over 25 million entrepreneurs in the United States alone. Also, black people account for 14% of drug users in America, yet 65% of people incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses are black. Thus, my question as to what was a “more likely” scenario can be easily answered by looking at relevant statistical information.

My point is simple. Disregard what everyone else thinks, don’t change your behavior because of a stereotype. Instead, change your way of thinking because it is just plain fucking wrong.

3 responses to “The Dark Side of Stereotypes

  1. Pingback: Back in the Classroom - It’s a Stereotypical Girl Thing·

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