By Sierra Marrero | Assistant Community Editor
Stereotypes—a method to categorize people, can not only used to diminish an individuals self worth but also causes a division from ones own culture.
Whether it’s subconsciously or consciously, sociology research shows that we all use stereotypes. Stereotypes are not limited to just race, but are made within the contexts of gender, religion, class, sexuality, etc.
As cliché as some people may think stereotypes are when discussing its relevance in society, many underestimate the power it truly holds on people.
One riddle included in research conducted by Mikaela Wapman (CAS’14) and Deborah Belle, asked participants to solve this riddle: “A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!”- How was that possible?”
Well, the results showed that over 75 percent of the participants did not assume the surgeon to be the boy’s mothers and the biggest assumption was that the surgeon was gay, and the boy’s second father.
The studies showed one aspect of gender bias against women in the notion that a surgeon isn’t typically found to be a women. Although the riddle results may seem silly to some, it only reinforces the idea that Stereotyping is the groundwork that can lead into discrimination.
To see what some stereotypes CSUSB students receive, they were asked to explain their ethnicity, where they are from, what stereotypes they have received and how those stereotypes or “barriers” could be broken down for people who make those judgments.
The first student interviewed was Christina Taylor, mixed with African American and Caucasian, whom always received stereotypes because of her mixed ethnicity.
Taylor stated, “I consider myself to be black and white, I really don’t care for the term African American […] people assume I have more money because I’m not dark and don’t speak ‘ghetto like most black girls’ […].” Taylor continued, “ The black community has usually considered me like a white girl. In the white community they consider me a black girl. Pretty much rejection from both ends.”
Taylor said that she found most stereotypes to be wrong, but doesn’t think that they will ever be nonexistent.
“I believe it’s hard to break barriers down because many people are stuck in a certain mindset.” stated Taylor.
Next, student Matthew Jenkins, who is African American, shared his accounts of stereotypes.
“I have often been viewed by those outside [of my ethnicity] as the “athletic one” based off the color of my skin, but when it came to my character and how I presented myself I was often viewed as the “white-black boy.” Jenkins continued, “I have always hated being called that, to me it’s like saying that being white is the prime example of a proper and civilized character and everything else is the example of uncivilized.”
Jenkins feels that they encourage the notion that being black entails the “slag talking, pants-sagging, sports oriented persona given to society by white nationalists.”
Jenkins further adds, “These barriers, through my experience, often stem from our ethnical group discouraging one from being themselves and are often teased and bullied until the individual gives in and changes their character to how their peers portray themselves. If we teach our young to embrace their originality and tell them that it is ok to be themselves there would be less people having identity crisis in their later years.”
Richard Gonzales, who identified himself as Mexican, said that he always receives stereotypes from non-Mexicans with references to him liking things considered to be part of the Hispanic culture.
“People assume that I have to like Chile cause I’m Hispanic or that I only like tacos, I only drink tequila since I’m Hispanic”, says Gonzalez.” I don’t think they hold any truth because these stereotypes are very general.
Half White half Mexican student, Sean Egle, has faced stereotypes because of his white decent as well as from his political party preference.
“I receive stereotypes being both white and Hispanic. I’m too much of one for the other (too white to be naturally associated with Hispanics and too Hispanic for the whites) everyone thinks I’m “privileged” but don’t account for all the hard work I put in for my own success.” Egle continued, “I’m a white republican male, society tells everyone that I’m the enemy just for existing.”
Egle believes stereotyping originates from how people are raised and by exploring other cultures it can be reduced.
Lastly, half Egyptian and half Mexican student Saaed Villanueva, said he’s faced Muslim stereotypes his whole life.
“I’m not even Muslim…Growing up I always heard terrorist 9/11 jokes towards me, saying I have bombs, but it’s never bothered me,” stated Villanueva .
Villanueva expresses how he isn’t sure if people genuinely stereotyped him or if they just general assume his culture, based off of his race.
“I feel the people that stereotype me often are the people that are Islamaphobic and avoid someone like me because they’re scared. The one question I do get asked by everyone is ’where are you from ?’ Then when I tell them they ask do you know Arabic? And I’m like no,” said Villanueva.
One student Brandon O’Connor, believes that stereotypes can be deconstructed through education.
“Exposure to other cultures without an ethnocentric point of view is the best way to break stereotypes […] a first-hand educational experience […] for example, taking a class that offers an aspect of cultural awareness,” says O’Connor.
Although stereotypes may offer a quick way for us to sort information about people into categories, it allows us to falsely make generalizations of all people within of a group that may not be true.
Sociologist, according to Boundless website, claim that “by dividing the world into discrete categories by stereotyping, one is able to foster an us versus them mentality”.
To deconstruct this type of view, many of the students suggest more education on the subject in order for communities to work towards achieving cultural awareness and break down societal stereotypes.