Stereotypes prove to be a part of human culture

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Disapproval of prejudice is seen in all forms of media everywhere around us students. We hear the hate towards prejudice from celebrities, classes, and in the conversations of surrounding people. So what is it with this controversy towards stereotypes, and are they really as negative and unnecessary as everyone says they are?

Let’s look at the definition of stereotypes first. Stereotypes are defined as “generalizations that is used to define or distinguish a group” (Dictionary.com), meaning that stereotypes put a label on a group of people so that we, the people who make the stereotype, can identify who that group is.

People everywhere put this label on people who they don’t know so that way they know how to treat them, because without this label, it would be almost impossible to interact with different people. Every one of has made or followed a stereotype, even though we don’t know it or don’t want to admit it, but it isn’t something to be ashamed of. Stereotypes are not meant to bring anger and violence as people believe it to be, but rather it is an act of trying to understand those that we don’t already.

Throughout history, dramatic examples of stereotypes are seen and known world-wide. The communities where stereotypes turn into public violence and fear are the communities many of us know, and many of us think of whenever anyone mentions prejudice or stereotypes. The basis of our knowledge and the entire nation’s knowledge is formed by these sorts of communities, but this leaves a huge gap in understanding what stereotypes really are.

“Whenever I think of stereotypes and prejudice, what first pops up in my head is the Civil War, because that’s what we are talking about in history class,” said sophomore Savni Nagarkar.

Prejudice and stereotypes are a part of human nature, and of animal instinct, as we tend to “make a distinction between us and them” (TEDtalk: “Can prejudice ever be a good thing?”), them referring to the people that we do not know as well as others, such as our family and friends. Even if you claim not to have ever made a stereotype, you most likely are more willing to protect a certain community of people and be around with them more than you do others. This is based upon how humans characterize other humans, and that characterization in which we give positive or negative traits towards people based on how much or how little we know of them is all a part of stereotypes.

At high school specifically, stereotypes and prejudice can be seen in the cliques that fellow students and especially public media creates towards students in specific extracurricular activities, academic status, and even a unique type of personal style. We are informed of groups such as the “Jocks,” the “Populars,” the “Nerds,” and the “Goths” through films, popular television shows, and in the voices of those that already experienced high school.

“You always see the cliques being portrayed in TV shows on channels like Disney. The ‘popular kid’ and the ‘ loser kid’ of the school are always in some sort of battle against one another,” said sophomore Joanna Szustek.

Stereotypes are not meant to be the negative and violent generalization that it is considered to be by many, but rather just a generalization in itself. Some stereotypes do result in anger and chaos, but not all of the stereotypes do, and that is something that we as a society fail to realize when all we hear are the dramatic fights that stereotypes caused. We need to know that stereotypes is not an ignorance or a result from a lack of knowledge, but rather something that is created when we are trying to learn more about other communities.

 

By Anastasia Bicolli