Because our racial stereotypes are so rigid, we tend to ignore or discard any information that is not consistent with the stereotype that we have developed about the racial group.
We develop our racial stereotypes in a variety of ways.
However, in most cases, racial stereotypes are harmful because they ignore the full humanity and uniqueness of all people.
When our perceptions of different races are distorted and stereotypical, it’s demeaning, devaluing, limiting, and hurtful to others.
In some cases, people who are repeatedly labeled in negative ways will begin to develop feelings of inferiority.
Sometimes, these feelings of inferiority can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies that perpetuate the stereotype.In Kristen Lee’s typed interview “Multiculturalism Explained in One Word: HAPA” Lee recalls how her appearance affected how she was viewed in different settings and how she felt by it.For example, this can be seen with Lee’s trip to Hawaii.Racial stereotypes are automatic and exaggerated mental pictures that we hold about all members of a particular racial group.When we stereotype people based on race, we don’t take into account individual differences.In Hawaii, Lee felt accepted and proud in her physical appearance, while in America, specifically Michigan, she felt like a minority in her setting, “I have almond-shaped eyes, fine dark hair and olive skin that turns butterscotch in the sun.I was a confident and proud HAPA in Hawaii, but when I came back to Michigan, my predominantly white peers still saw me as a model minority statistic, exotic foreigner, and a token Asian in the classroom” (Lee 6).As a result, we miss opportunities to learn and thrive from our differences.Some people might say, “There’s no harm in having racial stereotypes or making racial or ethnic jokes based on stereotypes.Next, we should work to become more aware of our inner thoughts and feelings and how they affect our beliefs and actions.When we have a stereotypical thought about a racial group, we should follow it up with an alternative thought based on factual information that discounts the stereotype.