(image provided by classwarfareexists.com)
Three Simple Ideas for Confronting Stereotypes
Doesn’t it feel like a mistaken identity when someone makes assumptions you? However, many of us have acted on stereotypes about others.
Whether you are dealing with
- an “angry black woman,”
- a “quiet Asian,”
- an “indecisive woman,”
- an “athletic Black man,” or
- “a bitter person with a disability,”
Here are three ways to chip away at these stereotypes to ensure that you are fairly dealing with the person and not your mental image of who they are.
1. Are you aware of the stereotype?
Awareness is key to solving any problem. After all, how can I plan to lose 10 pounds if I won’t even look in the mirror or step on a scale? By ignoring or attempting to be colorblind (or fill in the blank blind) to history and culture is like putting a band aid on a broken arm. Learning about different groups, through conversation and genuine interest, is key to treating others as individuals.
2. Are you basing your actions on your subjective perceptions or the objective reality?
It’s so easy to categorize people based on our past interactions with others in their group or the ways in which our media portrays a group. However, these shortcuts create clumsy (and unfair) interactions. Think to yourself, would I interpret this person’s actions the same way if they were a different race, gender, or any other characteristic? While this question requires some work, such thoughtfulness will go a far way.
3. Are you challenging the stereotype?
Awareness is the first step toward inclusion. Now it is time to take action. When we are impacted by something, there is a greater chance that we will care. Increasing your exposure to different groups by developing friendships is the greatest cure to eliminating bias. As any ally will tell you, it’s difficult to stand by while your friend is being pushed around.