We all know that stereotypes exist for all races & cultures. In a definitional construct, a stereotype can be defined as a generalized statement regarding behavior or attitude for a group of people. Stereotypes are usually developed from either personal experiences or are absorbed from various media texts. Personally, stereotyping is a part of human functioning – on a cognitive level it is applying a mental framework (set of ideas & concepts) to a situation, problem, or interactions. The problem for the ‘art’ of stereotyping comes in its application – treating people a certain way because of a stereotype. I’m sure we have all experienced that feeling – some more than others, and I accept this reality. My qualm is not really the ‘treatment’, but the “limits of potential” that stereotypes can exert.
I get that being a young black male that I am maladapted, aggressive, may have several illegitimate children, very fashionable, do several drugs, and have a lack of respect for authority figures – due primarily to the absence of a father figure in my childhood. Now with that fact(s) I am also an entrepreneur. In regards to entrepreneurs, when I tell others that I have businesses, the primary assumption is that I am either creating a music label or clothing line. Whats alarming is that black, white, asian, brown people like place the same limit: the extent of the ‘Black Entrepreneur’ is limited to Music & Fashion. So one can imagine the shocking expressions I receive when I tell others that I have a Media & Event Planning Company; worse when I get into rich descriptive detail regarding concepts & terms. The change in behavioral expression (facial, body, verbal) is almost instant – the limits that were disposed on me had been shattered & something significant has happened. I am now no longer a “constant, predictable negro” in their eyes – I now represent a variable that can not easily be defined by existing stereotypes. Making my potential limitless – of course, I knew this all the time, but it brings me a sense of joy to ‘school’ others from time to time whom try to limit me.
Ironically, when you stereotype others & place limitations on their behavior, you kind of limit your own abilities to think outside the ‘box’ or paradigm.
Irony is a Bitch isn’t it?