Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dangerous Stereotypes

Stereotypes can be useful when used in the right context. My trainer for private investigations who had been working for 12+ years told me that if he was following an African American male he always checked out the mother's house. He was certain that all African American males would visit their mother and he had been right on every single case he ever took in. That stereotype turned out to be useful. Is it 100% true, probably not.

That isn't always the case though. Many times stereotypes can be dangerous, detrimental or just plain hurtful. Such is the case with many of the stereotypes we see in media outlets across the world. I'm not touching on those individually as I've already mentioned them in a previous post. The media has seen examples of counter-stereoptying that worked extremely well. One example most of us will remember is The Cosby Show which portrayed a middle class African American family and became a well-loved TV show.

A quote from one of the below articles (3rd in the list) "Although there is no regulation of colored people into separate facilities, most minorities are cast as criminals and leeches to "white upper-class" America." That says a lot about where many of the problems lie. First, you would think we're way past "colored people" as a society but even if we leave that aside, look at who this article recognizes that the media industry caters to. "White upper-class." The media industry feels that portraying anyone not upper class white as criminals and leeches to the upper class is the most marketable. 

Some (not all) of the most dangerous stereotyping in use IMO (followed by examples):

What do these stereotypes do that is so dangerous? Well, here in the US they cause fear and incite imbalanced and destructive lifestyle traits. For example, an upper class white person wouldn't likely go walking in a lower class, predominantly black neighborhood. Why? Because media has portrayed these areas as dangerous, drug-ridden, ganglands where people are just waiting to mug you, beat you or kill you for your shoes. The same would apply to a lower class white male looking for a job at a successful IT company. He may have the education and some experience but he's still viewed as low-class and if someone else walks in with the same credentials only wearing a better suit, that person would be hired over the lower class man. Why? Because lower class people are seen as ignorant in the media.

It's important to remember that each of us is first an individual, second a part of a group but most importantly each of us is human. Don't let stereotypes and images you see in media give you a false sense of self-importance or superiority. These images are dramatized for monetary gain and should never be fully trusted.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that you are an individual. You may fit into some stereotypes but not others. You do not have to be what the media portrays you to be and you don't have to be beaten down (proverbially or physically) by those who perceive they have superiority over you. Be who you are. You're perfect, even if they don't like you. The first step in ending stereotype segregation is to realize that you are unique and once you harness that you'll begin to understand that so is everyone else and you'll stop judging them.

Expanded Reading:
  1. Hicksploitation and the Rise of Queer Conservatism
  2. Counter-Stereotyping
  3. The FP: A Reflection of Cultural Change and Stereotype Exploitation
  4. Black Enterprise: A Brand of Exploitation: ‘Sweet Browns’ of the Worl;postID=6826765825741671453d, Please Have Several Seats
  5. DukeHealth: The Exploitation of Obesity: Why “Fat TV” Is a National Disgrace 
  6. The Daily Beacon:  Opinion: Exploitative entertainment perpetuates stereotypes
  7. NY Post: Exploited children should not be a reality-TV staple

No comments:

Post a Comment