Stereotypes

A few weeks ago I made a presentation in which I talked about stereotypes.  I argued that although stereotypes can be problematic, I don’t think that the existence of stereotypes is inherently negative.  When I was reading an article concerning Trayvon Martin this idea of the importance of stereotypes came up again.  I think the title, and a lot of the information in the article, A fight for Trayvon Martin is a war against Stereotypes, is problematic because I don’t think stereotypes are negative.  I think it is absolutely necessary to be aware of stereotypes in America.  However, to be aware of stereotypes doesn’t mean that you have to perpetuate stereotypes.

I took Roland Martin’s opinion that he expressed in this article into consideration when I made my second analysis of the relevance of stereotypes in America.  I came to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily agree with his point that there should be a war against stereotypes. If the American public thinks that there should be a war against racial profiling, then I agree.  However, being aware of stereotypes is very important, and I think a war against them would be detrimental to American society. If Trayvon Martin would’ve taken into consideration the stereotype that a black man with a hoodie on at night generally means that they are a menace to society and altered his dress, would he still have been murdered?  I don’t think it is fair that African Americans should have to alter their dress to be safe in America but I think it is one of the harsh realities of the American system.

The murder of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy; there is no denying that fact.  I don’t think any murder is justifiable unless it is clear that the murder took place as a result of self-defense or in the interest of national security. I have not analyzed all the evidence available in the Trayvon Martin case, and I probably never will.  As a result, I will not take a stance on this case whatsoever. I can only hope that justice will be served in America.

I think it is the responsibility of every American to be aware of stereotypes.  I think it is especially important for African Americans to be aware of stereotypes so that race can remain safe. Growing up I was exposed to a lot of negativity, but I am safe, and that is a testament to my parents’ teachings.  I was always taught by my parents to be aware of what I wear, what I say, and what I do, in order to stay safe.  I don’t think wearing a hoodie is problematic, but I do think that people should be extremely selective about when and where they put the actual hood on the hoodie. My parents often discouraged me from wearing the hood on a hoodie because of the perception it gives off to other people.  Do you think all of the people who support this hoodie march for Trayvon Martin would wear it at night if they were in Trayvon’s situation?  I know I wouldn’t wear a hoodie at night as an African American male in an affluent community when I think someone is following me because I think wearing it will jeopardize my safety.

The purpose of this post is to log my thoughts and to express the way I feel about stereotypes.  I don’t know if I will feel the same way about this 5, 10, or 20 months or years from now.  However, at this point in life, I think that stereotypes are extremely important to be aware of in society.  I think being aware of stereotypes is tantamount to being an informed citizen.  As an informed citizen, you will be able to make wise decisions based on the American system as it stands.  I think the perpetuation of a stereotype is the problem more so than the stereotype itself.  I think the perpetuation of a stereotype legitimizes it.  Legitimizing stereotypes is problematic because doing so perpetuates it.  By perpetuating stereotypes the doors open for racial profiling and the occurrence of negative racist events.  I think we should seek to live a life beyond stereotypes, but we should be aware of them at all times.

 

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