Stop Stereotypes

Taylor Benham, Writer

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In most school settings, especially high school settings, stereotyping is everywhere. A good example are the stereotypes used on athletes. People assume things about athletes, saying that they are “too athletic to be smart” or “too stupid to be smart.” They assume these things simply because a person is an athlete. Popular culture has contributed to this stereotype—in fact, usually people stereotype things because they see examples of a type of person in popular culture. Some other examples of groups in school that might be stereotyped include skaters, goth girls/boys, bikers, nerds, and more– the list goes on and on.

Even with conscious effort, it can be difficult not to do something that you have always done. It can be challenging to change your view on something that you experience around you. Everyone has stereotyped someone else at least once on their life. When you are around certain environments you adapt to them and tend to generalize the people in those situations.

Some people think stereotyping others is just a harmless joke, but it is important to remember that others can find it very offensive. If you are going to say something, say it yourself and see how it might feel to the person you’re saying it to. Keeping your comments to yourself may save you from insulting someone who takes stereotypes to heart. If we could stop judging people based on their color, race, ethnicity or just because of who one surrounds themselves with, then maybe people would not try to “fit in” with the group they feel comfortable with and instead simply be themselves.

Being put in a box of how you should act or look is not fun and is the very much the essence of stereotypes. When you are quick to judge and stereotype someone, it is imperative that you step in their shoes and consider how you are making them feel. Stereotypes isolate people and make them believe that they must be something that they are not. With the pressure of stereotypes, it can be difficult to embrace who you truly are.

Stereotypes have trickled into our law enforcement and criminal justice system. Racial profiling is essentially synonymous to stereotyping, as someone’s character is assumed simply because of their appearance. People every day are wrongly convicted because of racial or ethnic stereotypes. People are arrested and prosecuted  just because of what they look like.

Some deny that racial profiling exists, although 42% of people believe that racial profiling is widespread in airports today. When it comes to drug possession charges, consider this: Caucasian and African Americans drug use is approximately the same. However, an African American is five times more likely to go to prison for a drug possession than a Caucasian. These staggering statistics prove that racial profiling and stereotyping are prevalent today.

Stereotypes and stereotyping are difficult subjects to talk about. There are so many angles to look at stereotyping from, far too many to put into a single article. The bottom line is stereotyping continues to be a real problem in our society. Stereotypes are displayed in the workplace, in schools, and in our world all the time.

Although stereotyping may never completely end, it can get better. We must step into one another’s shoes and realize that people are individuals, not groups. Not stereotypes. We can make a change.