Stereotype: A widely held and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
As I read the definition of stereotype, I realize it doesn’t say anything about it being permanent or lifelong. With that knowledge I know I can help change some of the stereotypes placed on my people. My people being Black Americans. There are many stereotypes all people face, and that I understand. I know it would take a lot to tackle all of them and some may never be changed. What I am most concerned with is stereotypes we have learned to embrace. I get very disappointed when I hear statements like, “you talk white”, “that’s how we do”, “all black people do that”, “you know how we do”, etc. For some reason when I hear these things being said my skin crawls. I want to turn around and say, “Please speak for yourself only.” Actually at times I have said that, but not generally. I usually just shake my head and keep it moving. Is that right of me? Should I speak up every time? Do I need to correct people? Is it only me that gets upset?
I would like for us to not accept what is given to us. We do not have to buy into these labels and assumptions placed on Black people. In order to do that we must change our thinking. Change our attitudes. Work hard to be above the ignorance. If we are stereotyped as being lazy, let’s work harder. If we are stereotyped as being loud, let’s be quiet. The list goes on. Should we have to do this, maybe not, but unless we change our thinking and ways we will never be able to change anyone else’s.
I am constantly told I don’t “talk black”. That confuses me. What does that mean? So I have always responded, “What do Black people talk like?” I guess that makes people stop and think about what they just said to me. I would also have people tell me how well my children spoke or how “nice” or “kind” they were, I used to get offended because to me people were insinuating that Black children didn’t know how to carry on conversations or behave. I began to change my mode of thinking when I got these comments and instead of feeling offended or upset, I simply asked, “How did you expect my children to speak or behave?’ I also praised my children for making sure they were able to be understood when they spoke and for acting civilized. It may seem as though this isn’t needed but it is. Children are highly influenced by what they see and hear, and a lot of times the things they are privileged to are not always what’s best for them, and bad habits can be picked up. So praise for positive behaviors helps water the seeds planted.
If we stop giving into social pressures as well, we could kill many stereotypes. I see a lot of videos spread on social media of Blacks doing negative things. Maybe if we as a people vow to stop spreading and sharing these videos, as well as stop the behaviors that get videoed, we could kill some stereotypes. Maybe the world wouldn’t see us as aggressive and feel they need to defend themselves against us, if we stop sharing fight videos. Maybe if we stop feeding this social media monster so much negative things about us, we can start to show that the stereotypes are lies.
As I write this, so many stereotypes come to mind.