How would you feel if when asked to describe you, someone would answer, “A short little white nerd”? It wouldn’t feel too good, especially if it’s not true! However, this is the reality. When most people are asked to describe the average Jew, this is what they would answer. This is an example of stereotyping. Stereotyping is assuming that any person who is part of a specific group looks and acts the same. Individuals are labeled based upon color, race, and even level of intelligence!
Did you know that many people who get straight A’s are assumed to have no social life? In fact, I believe smart people can make friends more easily than others, by choosing the right kinds of friends who will remain with them throughout life. It simply isn’t fair to be labeled “unpopular” just because your test scores are higher!
Black people are assumed to be uneducated, ignorant, and illiterate. However, there are many in the black community who go to college and receive an education. Some may argue that there are black people who are unschooled. But guess what? There are just as many white people who are uneducated as well. Black people have been discriminated against in the past, and so we only see the bad in those we want to see it in. This is unfair, but, unfortunately, a reality. As a student commuting on public transportation, I too have fallen victim to stereotyping and labeling those of different races. Did it ever once happen that you saw an Arab, who may have actually been a law-abiding citizen, and assumed him to be a terrorist, armed with bombs?!? That is exactly what stereotyping is.
People’s clothing can earn them a derogative title, or even an assumption of their personality! This is wrong in so many ways. How can people’s clothing affect their actions?!? They may be wearing religious garb, but that doesn’t mean that they act in the same way everyone else wearing those clothes does. In fact, I myself stereotype certain sects of Judaism because I have had some bad run-ins with particular people. I assume that they all act in the same selfish, ungrateful way, just because the few people I have interacted with left me with a bad impression. When I see their way of dress, I immediately assume their personality. This is wrong as the clothes people wear may express their values, but certainly not their personality! If we give all people we meet a chance to prove themselves, without judging them based on their looks, we can discover more about them than we ever would.
When we stereotype others, we are being judgmental. We each deserve the opportunity to prove who we are as individuals. When we start seeing others in a different light, the world will reciprocate and be kinder to us as well. It is up to us to stop stereotyping. The world is filled with evil, but if we allow it, the kindness can shine through. Find the good in others. See who they truly are, as individuals.