False, overly simplistic, or unfounded assumptions about a group of people that results in disregard for individual differences amongst group members; usually, negative preconception that characterizes each member of that group as being the same.
Source: Carleton University Equity Services (2017). Anti-racism definitions. Retrieved May 5, 2017 from https://carleton.ca/equity/human-rights/racism/anti-racism-definitions/
Stereotypes are judgmental and negative and present a fixed and inflexible image of a group. They ignore individual differences.
- All Asians are Chinese.
- All Irish people are drunks and eat potatoes.
- All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists.
- All black people are of lower intelligence or of poor academic ability.
- All American's are rude and self-centered.
While some stereotypes might “seem" positive, the impact is always negative. For example, the statement “Asians are all good at math." It might seem to be a “positive" statement. But the reality is that there are two potential outcomes:
1.) An Asian person is good at math, thereby strengthening the stereotype and making that an “expectation" for all Asian people
2.) An Asian person is not good at math, and society questions “what is wrong with them" – because they are deviating from what is expected.
Both outcomes are harmful, not only to the individual, but to Asian people in general.
How to Take Safe and Purposeful Action
To create awareness of racial stereotypes:
- Acknowledge that we are all human and that we do stereotype people. It is human nature to put people and things in categories. We must start to consider the origins of these ideas and clarify evidence that supports these stereotypes.
- Increase awareness of inner thoughts and racial stereotyping; when you realize you are thinking about a racial stereotype follow it up with an alternative thought based in fact.
- Obtain factual information by increasing your interactions with people of other ethnic/cultural groups. Awareness and knowledge about others will lessen our stereotypes and better equip you to educate, advocate, and challenge others about stereotypes. Be brave and engage in honest dialogue with members from diverse cultures and perspectives. Be respectful of an individual's request for privacy which may be cultural or personal.
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Source: University of Notre Dame Counselling Centre (2017). Overcoming racial stereotypes. Retrieved May 12, 2017 from http://ucc.nd.edu/self-help/multicultural-awareness/overcoming-stereotypes/
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