My Stereotyping Experience
One of the things that make human life intriguing and to some extent captivating is the diversity and variation exhibited by people as a result of their differing cultures, jobs, personalities, and physical appearance. However, there exists great misinformation and at times, we tend to overgeneralize and judge people based on our own narrow-minded and often misguided preconceptions. These generalizations lead to stereotyping and prejudicing which may result in discriminatory behavior or even violence. I have at various times in my life been guilty of stereotyping others mostly as a result of my ignorance. I shall examine one such instance and articulate the feelings that I experienced during the incident. I shall then speculate on what may have caused my stereotyping and subsequent discriminatory behavior.
Being an American born Chinese, I view myself as an open-minded and accommodative person. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in China after which I returned to American. This experience has opened me up to a wide number of different cultures and I have grown to appreciate diversity and difference. However, I had an incident over the last winter in which I was guilty of stereotyping someone.
Over the last winter, I had an incident in which I was guilty of stereotyping someone. My friend had requested me to accompany him on a visit to his uncle’s farm in the South. His uncle owns a huge farm that employs several laborers. As we were walking around looking at the herds of Cattle, I happened to notice one of the workers staring at his phone with a wide grin on his face. Without a second thought, I thought to myself that he must be an unsophisticated and ignorant person owing to his manual laborer job and rural background. I immediately assumed that his sheepish grin was a result of his fascination with such a commonplace thing as a mobile phone. I expressed my sentiments to my friend who immediately agreed with me and told me that he did not envy his cousins for having to put up with such ignorant people. We went on discussing this and looking at characteristics in the other laborers which were in line with our stereotypical views.
Emotionally, I felt frustrated that there still existed people in America who were as ignorant as I perceived the laborer to be. I also felt smug, clever, and very enlightened in comparison to the other person. This superiority complex made me feel powerful and view the laborers as inferior beings. According to an essay by Rachis my prejudice falls in the level of Ant locution which involves speaking against the person or group of people that one is antagonizing. This is because my friend and I went ahead to express our prejudices verbally but did not let our feelings deteriorate further into levels such as physical attacks or even discriminatory behavior.
When I think about it, my experience was based on ignorance and limited information. Through the years, I have grown to generalize people and my main source of information is mostly mainstream media which is notorious for advancing stereotypes. While some of these stereotypes hold to sections of the population, over-generalization leads to misconceptions. I later learned that the laborer was educated in the city and his “fascination” with the phone as a result of chatting activities between himself and his friends.
From my experience, I learned that it is only by taking a closer look and interacting with the other person that my stereotypical perceptions can disappear. I also learned to appreciate the fact that stereotyping can lead to hatred which can degenerate to violence. This is because stereotyping leads to disassociation from other people and one can therefore perpetuate inhumane actions against others without feeling a burden in one’s conscience since the other people are not regarded as equals.