Minority Group and Stereotypes Term Paper

Pages: 11 (3032 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sociology

Minority Groups and Stereotypes

Stereotyping of racial groups is common throughout the world. Positive stereotyping helps even the non-deserving members of the racial groups. Negative stereotyping has even a worse effect. The negative stereotype image holds back the progress of the community and creates disillusionment and despair among the racial group. This 'guilty until proven innocent' attitude has negatively affected the American blacks' progress, their job opportunity and their integration as an equal member of the American Society. American blacks have to work harder to break the taboo of the negative stereotype.

Awareness of the unconscious stereotyping may help in reduction of the affects on black Americans, but in the end only hard work and progress of American blacks in the non-stereotype areas will finally kill the negative stereotyping.


If you happen to be a young bearded Pakistani carrying a backpack in the underground 'tube' station' in London, your chances of being stopped and searched as a potential bomber are close to cent-percent. No doubt that young British born Pakistanis would be extremely annoyed at this stereotyping.

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When IRA was waging a war against the British, it was convenient to keep an eye on the Catholics from Northern Ireland instead of watching both Catholics and Protestants as potential bombers. The truth is that Protestants were not setting up bombs in English pubs and from purely a logistics point it did make sense to isolate a smaller group for specific watch. Passengers profiling of Muslims and Arabs coming into U.S. is an indignity suffered by passengers with Muslim names. Very soon it would be like stereotyping when very ethnic Arab would be Osama. The war on terrorism is creating new stereotypes all over the world.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Minority Group and Stereotypes Assignment

If you need to find a stupid-character for a joke a dumb blond would do. In India you can use a Sikh; Irish are the replacement for the character in England. It is a fact that we have created stereotypical images of different ethnic groups. A Chinese friend of my father gleefully described how he scared away six large Frenchmen in a sleazy French clubs area by adopting a Karate posture, all Chinese 'knew' Karate then.

Stereotyping has been practiced all around the world and some of the stereotyping is so pleasant that it does not harm the ethnic group. 'Asians are good at Mathematics stereotyping will probably be appreciated by most Asian students apart from the ones who are poor in the subject and are told that 'but Asians are so good at Math's.

My ethnic group is 'black'. American-Blacks have been in United States for almost as long as the Caucasians but unfortunately most of the initial blacks came into United States, not in search of the Promised Land, but as forced labor bound in chains to work as slaves on plantations and laborers in other areas. Not all American-blacks, of course came into United States as slaves, many came after the abolition of slavery, but the black identification is from the days of slavery. The stereotypical image of the black population still has the remnants of their 300 years history in United States. This long period of history means that American blacks are now recognized as Americans and no one talks about sending them 'back home' like racist parties in Europe demanding to send back the Turkish-German, Algerian-French and British-Indians back to their Parents or grand parent's countries.

Black Americans are well distributed throughout United States. Most live in urban areas. Throughout the history of United States American blacks have been the subject of discrimination against them. The result is that even now when the laws forbid any kind of discrimination American blacks racial group is at the bottom rung of prosperity.

Majority of American Blacks are poor, living in urban slum, a significant proportion of American blacks used to leave school without any diploma due to social problems of poverty. The end of discrimination laws has helped in a positive change in the state of American Blacks. American blacks are now working as lawyers, university professionals, doctors, engineers and in all major professions. The present and last Secretaries of State belong to American-black racial group. The negative stereotypical image of American-Blacks has however not recognized the progress made during the last 40-50 years and overall negative stereotyping continues to this day.

On the positive stereotype side American blacks are considered good sportsmen/women and excellent in music and performing arts. This positive image has helped American- blacks thrive in these professional areas. It therefore follows that the negative image in other field is hindering progress of Black Americans and keeping them trapped into the cycle of poverty, crime and drugs.

Literature on Black Studies and Stereotyping

Black Study is one of the well recorded areas of American History. The problem is that the views on both sides are not unbiased. White historians may like to brush everything under the carpet and pretend that it did not happen or only acknowledge parts of the suffering of American blacks. The black historians often appear emotionally involved and an unbiased version is very difficult to find.

Gates, 1991] points out that the subconscious and subtle prejudice built over the years is the greatest obstacles to black progress today. Negative stereotyping has the effects which are not easily understood. By stereotyping one basically closes his or her eyes and the person is not judged. In stereotyping, if a person does not fit the stereotype, people look for excuses for this departure from the stereotype. The result is that a rightfully entitled person is denied many opportunities and the psychological effects on the individual and the stigmatized group are enormous.

Another stereotype about blacks is that they steal. This perception means that as soon as a black person walks in, the clerk follows him around, while someone not stereo typed as a thief is left on his own. If one is only watching blacks entering the store and not others, those are the ones that will be caught, the others will go unnoticed. We also need to remember the other statistics that most of the shoplifting is done by the store staff. Majority of blacks and other races enter and leave the stores without stealing but the stereotyping, the prying eyes, the knowledge that one is being watched more closely than others is certainly demoralizing and can even incite enough anger in a young person to live up to the stereotyping. Gates (1991) argues that the self-fulfilling prophecy works this way, the treatment leads to stereotyping and vice versa.

Gates (1991) cites examples of cases where successful blacks have to work hard to break that stereotypical image and some of them cut ties with their black roots, their family and hometown to live in a state of 'Pseudo limbo'. "It seems that in order to succeed a black person has to accept majority's norms and leaves 'blackness' behind.."

Feagin & Sikes,1994) describing the stereotypical image of blacks as poor or criminals cite example of Debbie Allen, a movie star and television producer, recounting a painful experience with discrimination at a Beverly Hills jewelry store. A white clerk, possibly stereotyping Allen as poor or criminal, refused to show her some jewelry. Allen was so incensed that she used the incident as the basis for an episode on a television show

Meier (1998) points out that generalization are unfair and the prejudices of stereotyping lead to discrimination without a basis. He gives an example that if a car dealer believes that an American blacks cannot afford cars, he first demands a higher down payment from a black American than other racial groups, Even if the American blacks agrees to the higher down payment, that does not change the dealer's stereotyped image as to him this black American is unique or lucky. If someone else can not pay the required down payment it does not create the stereotype for the next person but even if the black American can pay the down payment, it is merely regarded a departure from the rule. The stereotyping does not break and soon one black American would come in who fits the image and reinforces the self-fulfilling prophecy to continue the cycle.

Meier (1998) cites another stereotyped image that blacks are lazy. He argues that in order to break this stereotype image one has to work twice as hard as others. If a person from a non-stereotyped lazy group comes in late and cites a reason, no one would say a thing, if a black person comes and tells the same reason for being late; the laziness stereotype will only be reinforced.

The result is that because of these stereotyping the person from the stereotyped group has to work harder to avoid being stereotyped. Meier (1998) states that while blacks may fear being stereotyped, whites often fear being called racist and often bend backward to be nice. The difference in his opinion is that for a person from the majority it is not a… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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