Sunday, May 24, 2009
Stereotypes: a misnomer
The trouble with stereotypes is that they leave no room for interpretation and zeroes in on one particular feature of that race to the exclusion of all other traits.
I think when stereotypes become extreme to the extent that people act out on them it becomes racism. There is really a fine line between stereotyping and racism.
Take for example Arabs. Arabs are generally seen as barbaric, uncultured, crude, rude,arrogant,snobbish,aggressive,narcissistic, horny and not that endowed in the hygiene department. I myself am guilty of this culturally demeaning form of typecasting...Whenever i see an Arab id wrinkle my nose to hold my breath( the BO is intoxicatingly horrible)and id avoid Arab guys like Im being paid a million bucks to win a race. So far ive been hit on by sleazy Arab guys and been talked rudely to by the same.
They tend to be arrogant too with the false belief that they are superior to the Asiatic race because of their white skin colour and Arab lineage which was the cradle of Islamic Civilization.
But sometimes things and people happen. And when i mean happen they hit you like a red ominibus on a deserted highway. I made friends with this Arab girl called Medina and she was the opposite of everything i held Arabs to be. She was as gentle as the personification of the Arab psyche was not. She was kind, had clear eyes...the kind that shot right through your soul and identified whether you were kindred spirits or not in an instant. She was a perfect lady, modest,unassuming and friendly.
And take for example, White people. Most Asians are subconciously or conciously in awe of their previous colonial masters. Who were almost demi-gods with their white, fair skin, freckles, blond hair and coloured eyes and of course unbridled power that brought the whole world to its knees. So the result is that you see Asian girls( anyone not white) throwing themselves at these white guys in what they see as a move towards the perfect coupling. You see them dressing sluttily and clinging onto the white tourists looking for a casual fling like lost puppies. You hear of them engaging in lewd sex acts to please the modern white male. Why all this? It all boils down to stereotypes...again.
It took the Black Americans years to fight for their equality. To break the mold of stereotype cast by physical overtures that bespoke of their inferior status( in white peoples' eyes): their black skin was associated with ugliness and lowliness, their wide spaced eyes and wide flat noses were considered a derivation of the ape race. They were seen as slaves with little or no intellect at all and driven to lose their humanity through inhumane methods of labour.
Because you see, stereotypes are the result of ignorance of another's culture and values. What the western world sees as good or noble may not be seen as such in say, the lost Aztec Civilization. But that doesnt mean the Aztec people were inferior to the Western civilization...It just means that there is a difference in the set of values and culture to compute. We live in a world where everything Western is seen as worth emulating and good...an investment( even in terms of education) and anything that goes against the grains of Western Civilization's culture hub-which through its media tentacles have influenced the world to think of its culture and values as the universal truth-unacceptable.
So I say to myself and to others! Shake free of that stereotype and get to know a person in the context of his culture and origin rather than accepting the status quo of a known, so called universal culture(i.e globalization)!