Wednesday, December 20
The Pitfalls of Stereotyping
I was on the bus this evening, when three African American guys got on. Big (as they tend to be), speaking in the version of English that's peculiar to them, dressed in punk regalia and I had an accute case of the jim-jams. Irrational, I know, but it was getting dark, and there wasn't anyone else on the bus (other than the driver, let me add, lest you assume that it was some surreal encounter), and I was just inexplicably jittered. Got me thinking about stereotypes. They abound, don't they? I've gotten so used to grimacing at stereotypes, be they ever so casually mentioned, and scrupulously purging my vocabulary (and I suspect my consciousness) that I had forgotten what the word meant. Truly!! Ergo, it was an almost epiphanic moment today when I realised that the reason a stereotype BECOMES a stereotype is cos there actually exist a large number of people belonging to a particular group who act/dress/speak/think in a particular manner. As Wiki wisely says, stereotyping "may express sometimes-accurate folk wisdom about social reality". What would we do without the Wisdom of Wiki?