Are all black people criminals? Are all white people racists? Are all Muslims terrorists?
I think that every intelligent person will concur that the answer to all three of the above questions is “No.”
Still, there’re a lot of folks out there who genuinely believe otherwise.
Although judging an entire social group on the basis of characteristics of its few members; or judging a single individual based on preconceived generalizations about the group to which they belong can be very harmful, it is part of human nature at the current state of consciousness/evolution of many people.
The truth is that:
- As long as a sizable number of African-Americans engage in violent crime, Blacks will continue to be labeled by many as “criminals.”
- As long as a sizable number of Whites racially discriminate against people of color, white people will continue to be labeled by many as “racists”.
- As long as some Muslims commit horrible acts of terror on a large scale, Muslims will continue to be labeled by many as “terrorists.”
- The fact that most African-Americans aren’t criminals; that most whites aren’t racists; and that most Muslims aren’t terrorists won’t even matter.
Dealing With Stereotypes
As a Black man in America, with long dreadlocks and a beard, being stereotyped is something I’m well familiar with. However, because I understand the way the human mind works and know that being a target of preconceived notions others have of me is unavoidable, I’ve chosen not to devote any energy to it. My psychological and emotional foundations are too strong, and frankly, I’m too busy doing what I came to this planet to do, to allow something someone says or thinks of me to have an impact on how I feel. As long as my personal freedom and space are respected, I’m not interested in fighting anyone’s incorrect assumptions pertaining to my person.
At the same time, I’m aware that many people do take being stereotyped very seriously. Many get extremely upset and offended. Unfortunately, getting angry at the stereotypers and trying to convince them that they’re wrong, does’t solve anything. The only effective way of combatting stereotypes (for those who want to undertake the task), in my opinion, is going to the root of the issue.
The essential question to ask ourselves is, “Why am I being [negatively] stereotyped?”
The answer will most likely be that it is due to a few “bad apples” within the community that spoil the image of the community as a whole.
The intelligent thing to do, in my opinion, for those who get deeply offended every time they’re judged based on the actions of a few with whom they share race, nationality, religion, or culture, is to do whatever they possibly can to try to change the image of their social group by addressing the actions of the few who are responsible for damaging that image.
- Instead of getting upset that African-Americans are labeled “criminals,” a wiser use of energy would be to focus on developing strategies and taking massive action to counter the issues of violent crime in the African-American community.
- Instead of getting upset that Whites are labeled “racists,” a wiser use of energy would be to focus on developing strategies and taking massive action to counter the issue of racial discrimination and prejudice that are so prevalent in the United States.
- Instead of getting upset that Muslims are labeled “terrorists,” a wiser use of energy would be to focus on developing strategies and taking massive action to counter the rising issue of radicalization in the Muslim communities worldwide.
Even though there’re many Blacks, Whites, and Muslims who work tirelessly to solve those issues within their respective communities, effectively combatting stereotypes will require many more to join the fight.
Don’t get me wrong. Just because we are a member of a certain racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, or gender group, doesn’t automatically mean that we’re responsible for fixing the problems within that group. We are human beings first and foremost and our only true responsibility is for our own actions. However, if being stereotyped is something that we are certain we will never be fine with, just getting angry at those who are stereotyping us not only is not a practical solution, but is also giving others the power to be the masters of our emotions.