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The Dread of Stereotypes: What do you think?

How do you feel about being labeled or stereotyped? We know stereotypes to be good and bad but often times, they are not true and they can have serious, negative impacts on our lives.

Overtime I realize that sometimes, the greatest challenges that we face everyday are simply as a result of the false perceptions that people form about us and it all comes down to what we know and don’t know about each other. What we don’t know, we fear and that fear leads to the many prejudices that we have towards the people around us.

The COO of Facebook, a feminist at heart and a very outspoken advocate for equality, Cheryl Sandberg said, “We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”

A psychological study of human behavior shows that we are innately aggressive and competitive. Conflict is an inevitable part of human culture. We see each other differently and the greater our differences, the more likely we are to act upon them.

Could that explain our problem with bigotry against each other? And could that explain our failure to disregard stereotypes and instead, judge each other individually base on individual talents, interest and accomplishments?

“In society there are Muslims who are terrorist, immigrants who don’t know how to speak English, gays who are obsessed with sex, blacks who are uneducated, aggressive and rude and lower income people who are dirty and illiterate.”

The expectations we set for each other through these commonly held beliefs, leaves many of us tarnished and betrayed. Negative stereotypes are damning – setting expectations for people is crushing. We can paint an entire group, an entire society, or a generation of people with the same brush, but within each subset of society, there are people with individualized differences and they want their differences to be recognized. Everyone is different and those differences count! Everyone is their own kind of person.

Only if we could live by the words of Mahatma Ghandhi, “I don’t believe in stereotypes. I prefer to hate people on a more personal basis. The measure of a truly great man is the courtesy with which he treats lesser people…” simply, we just want to be humans and be recognized for that.


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