Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reflection 1

For the first class reflection I wanted to reflect on the discussion we had about stereotypes vs. culture.

In class it was mentioned that stereotypes are "widely held but fixed and oversimplified images or ideas of a particular type of person."This generally agrees with what my former definition of what a stereotype was. However, I really think a key point from the class discussion which I hadn't really considered with much thought was the fact that not all stereotypes are bad. The term "stereotype" generally has a negative connotation because we usually hear about it in our culture as something that people are trying to break, or as the punch-line of an offensive joke. However, I do agree, upon consideration and thought, that there are definitely some stereotypes in this world that have benevolent consequences. For example, someone in class brought up the stereotype of "Asians are smart." While this is still generalizing an entire group of people which I do not think is okay, this stereotype could possibly have a good consequence, such as a potential employer stereotyping an Asian man as smart, and therefore hiring him based on that preconceived notion. In contrast, the very same stereotype could have a negative effect, such as an Asian student being bullied because his peers view him as a "nerd." I think it's really important to think about the effects a stereotype can have on a person, whether they be beneficial or negative.

Someone also brought up how "stereotyping" is an innate reaction in the brain. The human brain is constantly trying to process new information and therefore it is necessary to group and categorize information. There have been times where I have caught myself stereotyping without even realizing it.

It is important to point out that many stereotypes come from the oversimplification of a culture.
Culture is not the same thing as a stereotype. In class, we defined culture as beliefs, norms, behaviors, customs, values, and shared identities that are characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group. Some of these things can include food, clothing, celebrations, and language. Someone might stereotype a Mexican woman as someone who only eats tacos and wears flamboyant outfits, simply because that is something "typical" of the culture.

This also reminds me of a way that I personally get stereotyped. I live in East Harlem, which is has the appropriate alias of "Spanish Harlem" because many people who live there are Spanish speakers. I, on the other hand, do not speak Spanish, yet I get stereotyped as a Spanish speaker simply because I have olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes, and live in East Harlem.

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