I came across this story by Jessica LaShawn in Chicago Now recently that got me thinking about stereotypes. Jessica was on her way to Las Vegas for the Miss America Pageant. She was asked by the flight attendant to put her new Versace coat in the overhead compartment. At the end of her flight when she stood to retrieve her coat, she saw a woman wearing one just like it. She reflected on the woman's good taste, waited for the aisle to clear, then went to get her coat. But her coat was gone...and she realized that the woman, who she'd thought had similar good taste to her own, had stolen her coat. When Jessica reported this incident to airline security, they didn't believe that her coat was stolen. Why? Because Jessica is black and the woman who left the plane in her coat was white. Apparently, white women don't steal...
1. White Women Don't Steal
|Image Credit: Flickr/Diamond Geyser|
2. Asians Can't Drive
|Charles Kwan via Wikipedia|
|Marchy Lee via Wikipedia|
|Image via http://brianwongmotorsports.com/|
If that's true, then someone needs to tell these guys that they can't drive! Charles Kwan and Marchy Lee race primarily in Asia, but Brian Wong is a Chinese-American racer who lives in California. He is a NASCAR driver, proving that it is not just a sport for white men. Read more about Brian Wong on the Angry Asian Man blog.
3. Black Musicians only play R&B or Hip Hop
Someone better tell Iowa native Simon Estes that he needs to quit singing opera and try to get his groove on by singing some neo-soul or something... And then go on and tell Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist at the Metropolitan Opera that he can't play any classical music because black folks don't do classical. Morris Robinson will need to figure out a new path for his life, since his bass singing with symphonies world-wide doesn't fit that stereotype. (Read and listen to more about some current black musicians in the field of classical music here in a podcast and post from WQXR classical radio in New Jersey.)
|Image Credit: Flickr/Luther College Photos|
|Image Credit:Flickr/bo mackison|
|Image via http://www.morrisrobinson.com/|
Check out the groundbreaking work of scholar Gloria E. Anzaldúa, expert on cultural and social marginalization who wrote poems, books, and changed the academic landscape with her work. She greatly influenced my own thinking when her book This Bridge Called My Back was part of my assigned reading in college. Read about Linda Chavez-Thompson, Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Learn about New Mexico's current governor, Susana Martinez. These women most definitely are not maids. They are scholars, politicians, and world-changers...and there are many more Latinas like them across the country.
|Gloria Anzaldúa via Wikipedia|
|Linda Chavez-Thompson via Wikipedia|
|Susana Martinez via Wikipedia|
5. Muslims are Terrorists
Tell that to the children who go to school with my own children every day!
My neighborhood has never experienced an act of terrorism. My Muslim neighbors hand out candy on Halloween, take their children to the pool in the summertime, shovel their driveways on snowy days, and attend our school's family nights just like my family and I do. They go to work every day, and take their kids to the same before school program I take my kids to. There has never been an act of terrorism in my Iowa town. Our neighborhood school has never suffered from an act of terrorism. This stereotype is simply not true.
If all Muslims are terrorists, someone also better tell this lady about Dr. Oz...He is a Muslim born in Cleveland, Ohio...look out! His stethoscope must be doing something evil just because he's Muslim, right?
|Image via Flickr/nayrb7|
Sure, there are definitely white women who don't steal the way Winona Ryder did, and the way the thief who stole Jessica LaShawn's Versace coat did. And there are Asians who don't drive well, Black people who sing R&B, Latinas who are maids, and a very small number of Muslims who are terrorists. Stereotypes start because of a reality. BUT problems begin when people assume that stereotypes are true of ALL people who meet a particular description.