This time I want to talk about stereotyping in general. I plan to talk about more specific stereotypes later in an effort debunk popular and often misguided stereotpyes, but for this post, I want to talk generally about what stereotyping is and, like the title says, why it is wrong and stupid.
What is stereotyping? Well, stereotyping is categorizing people into different groups based on pre-conceived ideas about people, ideas, life, etc. However, I would argue that stereotyping is a habit that all people do in an effort to categorize the world, and you shouldn’t worry about that, it’s the actions you take based on those stereotypes that are the problem. Naturally, when you meet someone, you look at them and attempt to decide whether they are a danger to you. Media shows potentially harmful strangers most often as men, poor, dressed like a gangster, smoking, black, hispanic, smoking, drunks more often than not. People who have one or more of these qualities register as dangerous, progressively more dangerous as you acquire more of these qualities. There is some statistical evidence supporting those claims, but that can be addressed in more specific stereotyping articles. The point of the matter is, all of these qualities are surface level and appearance based. Preparing in your mind for a possible dangerous encounter isn’t bad, but if you let yourself move away seeing people coming like this, it can be a little shallow and rude. If you’re like me though, I do avoid smokers because I hate that smell. We all slip up at times, but stereotyping in general is a harmful thing most times.
Now why are stereotypes wrong? Well I will admit that the mental stereotyping can save lives sometimes, but that doesn’t qualify anyone to avoid all black people in big cities, or be afraid of anyone who appears to be homeless and smoking. Firstly, they hurt the people being stereotyped. Speaking from experience, I have spent my entire life trying to appear less masculine to avoid comments like “boys will be boys” or “it’s what boys do” and things of that nature. I also hide a lot of my hobbies because people associate my hobbies with bad things. For instance, my favorite sport, tennis, isn’t a manly sport, it’s a boring and girly sport that is super easy. I beg to differ, but that again is another post. Or my hobby for video games. People have no idea why I play video games or the good things I’ve done with them. To them, I’m just a “gamer” spending all day isolated, hating society, having nothing to live for. Far from the truth, but again, another post. I hope this conveys how a person can be hurt by stereotypes.
Secondly, the person stereotyping misses out on the chance to meet a wonderful person or do something incredible. This is one of those classic movie scenarios where the rich kid and the poor kid become friends and each one thinks they have a better life and wants to trade lives. Not only are these movies hugely stereotypical (shallow rich kids and dumb poor kids for instance), but it clearly illustrates that their preconceived notions of each other are, while on surface level somewhat accurate, very misguided. “I can’t be friends with someone different than me.” They are people with stories and feelings, and they may have something amazing to offer. For the rich kid, maybe they are lacking in a deep connection with their parents that the poor kid has. Maybe the poor kid is malnourished and the rich person has food. Relationships in this world are give and take, and people always seem to think what they have is more valuable than what other people have. It’s this same idea that has caused countless deaths through ethnic cleansings (Stalin’s Purge, Hitler’s Holocaust, Rwandan genocide, American Trail of Tears). These examples clearly show both of my above points, because now all of these events are tragic and the victims are actually the ones celebrated, not the offenders.
Thirdly, stereotypes are directly bad according to the Bible. Matthew 7:1-5“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
There are countless more that warn us not to judge other people. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” This isn’t directly stereotypical, but the concept applies. You yourself are not perfect, you have no right to judge others on their appearances. Jesus is the only person who has a right to judge others, it is our job to spread love, not hatred. At the end of our lives, those who are without Jesus will face the ultimate and final judgment, and it is none of our concern. What is of our concern it to bring people to know Jesus. Every person you shy away from because of the way they look is someone you potentially didn’t spread the Good News to.
I hope I have made my point that stereotyping is a hurtful thing. It does not benefit anybody. Every single person was hand crafted by God, and is a beautiful work of art in his eyes. To judge people as the same based on appearance is shallow and ungodly, and nobody benefits from it. The reason we have statistics to backup stereotypes is because stereotypes cause those statistics in the first place. In America, we condemned black people to slavery and discrimination. Is it any surprise that as a result they live poorer lives, in general, and as a result of wealth discrimination, they resort to crime to get what they want and need? I am not saying that all black people are poor criminals, far from it. But of those who live in poverty, the ratio of black people to white people is far too high. Comment, like and follow my blog for more.