My Day in Stereotypes
- 12 Posts
- Age 14
Stereotypes: we see and hear them everywhere, but do we ever stop to actually think about them? Recently I asked myself this, and upon further consideration, I realized how many stereotypes I really experience each day. This is my average day:
Scene: A crammed school bus in a rural area of the United States, there’s a new kid. He’s from Kenya. A kid tries to make conversation with him;
Kid: Hey, do you play any sports?
New Kid: Yes. I play soccer and track.
At this point, the bus driver, who is listening in, interrupts:
Bus Driver: I bet you’re good at that.
This is an actual event that occurred on one of my school’s bus routes, and it really makes me wonder. I don’t know if the bus driver was just offhandedly opinionated or if it was just an ill-humored joke, but nonetheless, it is a horrible example of the stereotypes we see and hear each day. Where I live, anyone who is of African ancestry is immediately considered athletic and uneducated, which is an obvious stereotype.
Scene: A school classroom in a rural area of the United States. I’m helping a peer with an assignment when suddenly a girl calls out;
Girl: Hey! (Kid’s Name) You look like a dirty Mexican!
My classmate, taken aback, is suddenly self conscious. This particular classmate is in the process of growing a thin mustache and has a darker complexion, hence the stereotype.
Classmate: What? I’m not a Mexican!
Girl: I never called you a Mexican, I called you a dirty Mexican, there’s a difference.
Classmate: Oh, alright.
Both students go back to working on their assignments.
Okay, looking back on this, I should have intervened, but at the time I was so shocked all I could do was watch. I know, it’s ridiculous, but it’s true, this is an actual event that happened. In the average American citizen’s mind, Mexicans are often thought of as poor illegal immigrants who wear sombreros, eat tacos, and have mustaches. There is something really wrong about that.
Scene: A school locker room. Rural United States. I know, this is slightly awkward, but keep with me. As me and some other boys are changing to get ready to go to physical education class, or P.E. as we call it, I momentarily have my shirt partway on my head, and in that short period of time, my shirt looks like an Arabic headdress. Another boy notices.
Boy: Ha! You look like a terrorist!
Me: What? How?
Boy: Your shirt!
Shortly after, the boy dropped the subject and we went back to changing, but the experience really disturbed me. Just because you wear a headscarf means you’re a terrorist?
Scene: Rural school gymnasium during a school sporting event. The school is on a Native American Reservation, so their sport’s team is predominantly made up of Native Americans. I’m sitting by some other boys and watching the basketball game. One kid says;
Boy: They look pretty mean; I bet they’ll scalp us if they win.
In case you don’t already know, back when America was still being colonized, Native Americans were wrongly thought to be vicious savages. One practice that Native Americans did after defeating an enemy was to cut off an enemy’s scalp as a trophy. That was some time ago, though, and was only performed by the most fearsome of tribes. To stereotype Native Americans as uncivilized barbarians is an insult.
The thought of how many stereotypes go unnoticed is unbelievable, as is the animosity with which they are spoken of. There must be change. As of today, I am going to speak out against any stereotype I see or hear, no matter the consequences, for humanity’s sake. Will you join me?