Dumb jocks, That person must belong to a gang, just look how he dresses. How often have we heard somebody mention these things, yet, how often have we said something similar? I believe our society is based on the superficial things, which we categorize people because of the actions of a small percentage. All of the above statements are prejudicial notions used to define members of a social or an ethnic group, and are called stereotypes. Unfortunately, stereotypes negatively affect our ability to understand members of a different group or ethnicity, and are we usually resistant to change because of them.
We stereotype various groups of people, but none like professional athletes and different ethnic groups in our country. Professional Basketball, Football, and Baseball players have been the victims of many stereotypes. Hearing people call them dumb is common. A misconception by many people is that pro athletes aren’t educated. This is such a ridiculous situation since the vast majority of them have attended prestigious colleges and universities, and received degrees in different fields of study.
A popular misconception is that the educations they did earn were in areas like Liberal Arts, or other general fields of study, which didn’t challenge their mental capabilities. Another stereotype is that pro athletes received preferential treatment while in college. Many believe that if an athlete needs a certain grade to remain eligible to play sports, then the faculty would grade him or her lighter than the rest of the class. We have also stereotyped athletes as “above” the law.
There have been, on occasion, incidents where a pro- athlete is treated better by the justice system than an average citizen would be in the same situation. We are satisfied to say it’s because of the athletes fame and wealth, but fail to realize that it was probably a first offense, or to follow the story up and see that punishment was dealt accordingly. The most common stereotypes are those, which we have aimed at different ethnic or racial groups. African-American stereotypes are the most obvious.
We have often stereotyped Young black men as gang members solely because of the kind of clothes they wear. The media constantly blasts images of black men involved in crime and gangbanging across the six o’clock news, but hardly ever the White or Asian doing the same. We have also stereotyped African- Americans as the largest ethnic group on public assistance, which is not true at all. It just seems that way because people are ignorant to the fact that whites make up most of the welfare system.
We have also stereotyped them as superior to other races involved in sports. They can jump higher than everyone else, run faster, and have better balance because of their “extra” muscles. It may seem this way when we watch sports on television, and it does seem that way at times, nonetheless though it is a stereotype. Stereotypes are products of our own individual inadequacies. They make us feel better about ourselves because we can point the finger at a person, and label not only him or her, but also an entire group.
Stereotypes seem harmless at first, but overtime they cause serious damage to our society. Because of them, we have become narrow minded and less receptive to people different from us. Stereotyping a person, or a group of people, is easier than it is to get to know them. Stereotypes are just another product of our society, which puts more value on what an individual possesses rather than who a person is. Sadly though, stereotypes will remain. In order to decrease the percentage of stereotypes I believe that it all starts with us.