Racial profiling is frequently in the news and is a prime example of stereotyping in action. How does racial profiling relate to stereotyping? Explain
Feisty. Seductive. Intelligent. Used to describe individuals, the preceding adjectives pose no particular problem. Used to describe groups of people, however, these same adjectives may constitute stereotypes. [ What is a stereotype? Stereotypes are qualities assigned to groups of people related to their race, nationality and sexual orientation, to name a few. Because they generalize groups of
people in manners that lead to discrimination and ignore the diversity within groups, stereotypes should be avoided.
Stereotypes vs. Generalizations
While all stereotypes are generalizations, not all generalizations are stereotypes. Stereotypes are oversimplifications of people groups widely circulated in certain societies. In the United States, for example, racial groups are linked to stereotypes such as being good at math, athletics, dancing and so forth. So well-known are these stereotypes in the U.S. that the average American likely wouldn’t hesitate if asked to identify which racial group in this country is known for excelling in basketball. In short, when one stereotypes, one repeats the cultural mythology already present in a particular society.
On the other hand, a person can make a generalization about an ethnic group that hasn’t been perpetuated in society. Say, for instance, a woman encounters individuals from a particular ethnic group and finds them to be excellent parents. Based on her encounters with these folks, she may oversimplify and conclude that anyone from this ethnic group must be an excellent parent. In this instance, she would be guilty of generalizing, but an observer might think twice about calling her conclusion a stereotype since no group in the U.S. has the distinction of being known as excellent parents. ]
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