Stereotyping

My Norwegian grandfather came to America with a large number of other immigrants in the late 1800s. Within America today there are still immigrants, many coming from different lands than in the 1800s and early 1900s. No doubt most of them come for a better financial future, the same reason for coming as those from my grandfather’s era.

Part of my job is to teach social skills to high school students within a high school of many cultures. The reason I decided to teach stereotyping as part of good social skills program is because I’ve heard too much of it at school this year. Violence can result from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, perhaps more so with teenagers who can be impulsive (sorry, I’m stereotyping here).

School is not the only place stereotyping takes place; let’s look at our books, what we watch on television and at the movies. To their credit, they have a smaller space to make information known, a shorter time slot to make a point. For example, mentally ill people in the movies are often a villain. All mentally ill people are not villains. Also, if the director wants to portray a character that is not the sharpest tack in the box, you may see a pretty blonde with wide eyes trying to understand a conversation. Yet, all blondes are not dumb. Another example seen in books, on television, or in the movies is if you want someone in the scene to be a tech whiz, you may describe a male with glasses and pens in his front pocket to portray this character. Not so often is the pretty blonde woman the tech whiz. As a matter of fact, on my way home from work last week I saw a van with the name, Geeks to the Rescue, embossed on the side. Perhaps Blondes to the Rescue would be their second choice for a name. 

 Sure, many don’t think too much about all this, don’t make a fuss about a blonde joke in front of a room full of people whether there is a blonde in the room or not. But it can be more serious than this. If I clump together a race or a country with certain traits, I could have a problem if I offend a person within that group, which is what I am trying to teach at school and what I am trying not to do when I write a story.