Stereotypes Essay Example

Stereotypes and how they affect and individual's experiences in life

Stereotypes are an official representation of a community. That’s an obvious lie, but stereotypes are a concept that are seen as the unofficial yet official view of a certain community. Stereotypes are a complex yet simple concept that can either reinforce or dismantle someone’s view on another individual. Specifically, cultural stereotypes that are broadcasted on a basis. In a sense, cultural stereotyping can negatively affect the individual experience by minimizing their value, which then leads to how they’re viewed by society, and how they’re treated.

In Kristen Lee’s typed interview “Multiculturalism Explained in One Word: HAPA” Lee recalls how her appearance affected how she was viewed in different settings and how she felt by it. For example, this can be seen with Lee’s trip to Hawaii. In Hawaii, Lee felt accepted and proud in her physical appearance, while in America, specifically Michigan, she felt like a minority in her setting, “I have almond-shaped eyes, fine dark hair and olive skin that turns butterscotch in the sun. I was a confident and proud HAPA in Hawaii, but when I came back to Michigan, my predominantly white peers still saw me as a model minority statistic, exotic foreigner, and a token Asian in the classroom” (Lee 6). Lee’s view of acceptance was solely based on the minority/majority setting, and how she’s either viewed as a token minority (outsider) or a native to the setting(insider). Lee’s acceptance and value was measured and applied differently in both settings, which led to her feelings towards both situations being based on how she was viewed. This experience led to her value as an individual being either expanded or minimized in either situations. Lee’s value as an individual person and a person of the Asian community is also minimized when she’s in a public setting with her partner, whose of the Black community. “I’ve avoided most racial discrimination, but I do face a different kind of prejudice when walking around with my black boyfriend, like the occasional hard stare or intimidating remark” (Lee 8). The concept of interracial dating is highly looked down upon by some people, so for Lee to be in public with her partner of a different race is seen as ’wrong’ by some people. This thought leads to both Lee and her partner’s value as individuals being minimized to the stereotypes that are attached to their races and/or ethnicities.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s TedTalk “Danger of a Single Story”, Adichie talks about how a single story, or a single stereotype, of someone can lead to them only being seen as that stereotype, which then results in that person being treated differently within society. For example, Adichie talks about how her single story of a family helper led to her viewing him solely based on that single story. “It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them is how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.” (Adichie). Adichie’s view and single story of a family helper led her to view him as only that stereotype which then led to her treating him differently as a person without truly knowing who he is as a person because of the single story she has of him. Adichie also talks about how an outsider’s single story of her as a someone of African descent, specifically Nigerian, led her being treated by that person. For example, Adichie’s professor claims that her characters in a fictional work of hers are not authentically African because they don’t fit the stereotype or single story that the professor has cultivated in his mind about people from Africa. “The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African.” (Adichie). Adichie’s professor is seen taking a single single or stereotype about the people of Africa that he most likely cultivated from the media representation of Africa and the people of the continent in the West and comparing them to the characters in Adichie’s fictional work, in which he results as “not authentically African” because they don’t fit the single story of Africa that he has in mind. This single story or stereotype of certain community of people led to Adichie being treated differently by her professor. In both of Adichie’s example, a single story of an individual is taken as the whole truth of that person and that person is then treated differently in society because of that single story.

In Santha Rama Rau’s nonfiction essay “By Any Other Name” Rau expresses how stereotypes about her nationality and/or race led to her and her sister being treated differently by society. For example, Santha’s older sister, Premila is treated differently in a classroom setting for solely being Indian. “Premila said, ”We had our test today, and she made me and the other Indians sit at the back of the room, with a desk between each one.“ Mother said, ”Why was that, darling?“ ”She said it was because Indians cheat,“ Premila added. ”So I don’t think we should go back to that school“ (Rau 36 -38). In this situation, Premila is discriminated against by her teacher at school for a test because the teacher believes that all Indians cheat. This leads to Premila and the rest of the Indian kids in her class are ordered to sit in the back of the classroom for the test. This experience then leads to Premila feeling upset and viewed differently by her teacher solely based on the fact that she’s Indian and the common stereotypes that are associated with her nationality. Premila and Santha are also seen being treated differently by society when they apply for school and are told to change their names. ”The headmistress had been in India, I suppose, fifteen years or so, but she still smiled her helpless inability to cope with Indian names. Her rimless half-glasses glittered, and the precarious bun on the top of her head trembled as she shook her head. “Oh, my dears, those are much too hard for me. Suppose we give you pretty English names” (Rau 3). In this situation Premila and Santha’s names are seen as “bothersome and unpretty” by the headmistress, solely because they’re of Indian descent, and so she orders for new “pretty English names” for the sisters. This suggestion by the headmistress is based around the stereotypes that are associated with the Indian nationality and results from how the headmistress views herself and her people superiorly, compared to the author and her sister, which is inferiorly. This experience adds on to how based on negative stereotypes, the sisters Premila and Santha are treated differently by society, which can then result in their value being minimized as a whole.

To conclude, cultural stereotyping can negatively affect the individual experience by minimizing their value, which then leads to how they’re viewed by society, and how they’re treated. One can be negatively affected by stereotypes in many ways. One way is by minimizing their value as a person. Another may be how they’re viewed by society and the people around them. One can also be affected by stereotypes in a sense of how they as an individual are treated because of said stereotypes. Whether it be huge or small, stereotypes are meant as a means of diminishing a person as a whole through many different means and that’s something that should never be looked highly upon.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License