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Racial Stereotypes

Have you ever been the target of a good humored joke because of your ethnicity? Racial stereotypes often are the cause of such an occurrence, and most of us have been at the receiving end at some point of time or the other. In this article, we try to understand these stereotypes better and take a look at the most common stereotypes that exist.
OpinionFront Staff
What is an ethnic stereotype? Racial stereotypes or ethnic stereotypes are a representation of a group of a certain ethnicity or race in a generalized manner, portraying all members to display certain typical characteristics. Stereotypes are more often than not considered negative, though there do exist positive stereotypes. This racial stereotyping is often the root of many jokes. Stereotyping someone generally indicates that the person has all the traits that members of the race are known to possess. The biggest problem that arises out of this kind of stereotyping is that it creates prejudice which can be the root cause of racial discrimination.

As mentioned earlier, stereotypes generally tend to be negative but there do exist positive stereotypes as well. For example, Native Americans are often portrayed in the media as spiritual, wise, faithful, and having a keen interest in saving the environment. There are many studies that have been conducted regarding ethnic stereotypes but one of the most famous ones was conducted by Katz and Braly in 1933, which reached the conclusion that most people held negative stereotypes and more often than not the stereotypes favor the race to which the holder of the stereotypes belongs. While most of us try and are successful at avoiding these stereotypes, we are bombarded by these stereotypes so often that we are unable to keep them out of our system. Therefore, we often notice the existence of ethnic stereotypes in the workplace and otherwise.
List of Racial Stereotypes
There is no denying the fact that these stereotypes are more often than not ingrained in our brains. They are generally a part of upbringing, something that we imbibe from our social environment. This is not to say that one cannot outgrow these stereotypes and dispel them. But more often than not it can be quite difficult to not think a certain way, when you meet people of a certain ethnicity for the first time. Regardless of the race you belong to, at some point of time or the other, you would have been the focus of racial stereotyping, of the type described. The list given below are some of the most common, and generalized images of people of a certain race. While these stereotypes may not be politically correct, they do exist in correlation to people of certain racial backgrounds.
  • All African-Americans are good at dancing, while Caucasians more often than not have no rhythm.
  • All people of Asian ethnicity are geniuses and driven to serve their employers well. They do exceedingly well in academics.
  • People of Hispanic origin do not have a good command over English and more often than not, are not fluent in the language.
  • Gambling is one of the favorite pastimes of Native Americans.
  • All African-Americans are good at playing basketball. This stereotype emerges from the fact that a large percentage of professional players are of African-American origin.
  • All Caucasians are racist and guilty of a racist attitude towards people of different ethnicity.
  • Every one who belongs to the Middle East hates America and is a fundamentalist. This is one of the stereotypes that was perpetuated further in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
  • African-Americans are not very intelligent, tend to be involved in nefarious activities, and have big lips.
  • Natives of the African continent live in underdeveloped villages, in tiny huts, and wear very little clothing.
  • People from Latin countries are often dependent on welfare and charity, have many children, and are generally illegal aliens in the United States.
  • South Asians are often all portrayed to be from India, which is in turn portrayed as a country of elephants, snake charmers, extreme poverty, pestilence, and two million gods. This is one of the most common stereotypes in the media.
  • Jews are often stereotyped as a community of greedy misers who refuse to part with the money that they make.
  • A cultural, gender, and racial stereotype that refuses to die down is that of the dumb blond, who while attractive is often considered lacking in intelligence.
  • Another common racial stereotype propagated by the media is that which portrays Italians as violent, politically corrupt, and ignorant.
These are just some of the most common stereotypes in movies and media. There are many such examples that exist. In the recent past, there have been studies that indicate that ethnic stereotyping has seen a negative trend. More and more people are becoming more open to accepting people from different races in their community. This is a move in a positive direction that we should welcome with open arms. Racial stereotyping can have a huge negative effect on society in general, if it results in discrimination. While avoiding stereotyping someone is not easy, falling prey to these images is not the smartest thing you can do. It can result in societal clashes and cause misunderstandings that are completely unnecessary.