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Category: Philosophy and Psychology

Date Submitted: 08/21/2011 11:10 PM

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Stereotypes are a constant problem. Because of stereotypes, people make assumptions about others that are unwarranted and incorrect. Some of the stereotypes I’ve personally encountered have to do with race, gender and age. As an African-American male, I’m constantly being assessed by the way that I look. I find that many of the stereotypes that people have about young black men affect the way that I am treated in public. For example, it’s not uncommon for me to be “followed” or tracked in stores by security guards. When I enter a store with a bag or backpack, I’m often asked to put it behind the counter. The guidelines posted in the front of the store say that no bags are allowed, but I see other people carrying bags, backpacks, and handbags. I believe that the security personnel see me as a threat or a risk. They think that they are just being “careful”. That is, because more black people are convicted of crimes, they think that more black people are criminals. That in turn leads them to believe that I am more likely to steal something from their store than a person of the same age and gender but who is Caucasian. I know that this stereotype is pervasive throughout the country. Many cities and states have problems with so-called “racial profiling” in which officers of the law use racial characteristics to substitute for probable cause in deciding which cars to stop, which people to search, and so on. However, in this case, it’s nothing more than the use of a stereotype.

Another stereotype that I see perpetuated against others is that people who are good-looking or talented in athletics or entertainment must not be very intelligent. I hear this stereotype, especially against women, from people I talk with and even in the media. I have it myself, too. For example, I’m surprised when I see a famous celebrity on a talk show and find out that he or she is actually quite intelligent or has thoughts beyond working out, fashion, and other celebrities. For example,...