The Positives of Racial and Ethnic Stereotyping

When people are treated differently and not given fair chances due to simply the way they look and the color of their skin, that is unfair and unjust. In this sense, racial and ethnic stereotyping are hurtful and horrible things. But in my opinion, there is something to be said for the grouping of people based on these kinds of traits, and that is the sense of belonging that it brings.

Often times I feel left out when I don’t have one defining nationality that I can reference when it comes up in conversations or when holidays like St. Patrick’s Day role around. To be able to belong to and identify with a certain culture is somewhat empowering and can be comforting. Even being a part of the class of people known as red heads gives me a certain bond with other red heads as well as makes me proud to be a part of a group such as that. This is part of what I think drives Archie Jones to such sadness early in White Teeth. He does not have a certain group of people to identify with.

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest examples of peoples proud of their heritage and all the entailing genetic traits coming together to celebrate.

For ages people have naturally gravitated towards people of their own races and cultures. We see areas such as Chinatown that pop up in the certain areas where people of the same race and same country of origin settled together when they first came over from their home lands. It is comforting to be around people similar to you and empowering to have a culture to belong too. This is why it is not all harmful that certain stereotypes are placed on racial and ethnic groups. It keeps this bond alive and present.

We see the other side of this argument in Mendel’s Dwarf when Benedict Lampert does not feel any connection with the people who are most similar to him and instead, loathes them somewhat. I feel that this can be somewhat attributed to the fact that he had such an extensive understanding of genetics and the unjust manner of chance within genetics.

It is very interesting that genetics can be responsible for something as powerful as nationalism and the bonds formed due to the traits that come packaged together with genes. The physical traits that result from genetics are very much at the mercy of chance, yet many times it is also these traits that are responsible for so much of our emotional build up as humans too. The physical results of genetics so much form our outlook on the other areas of life as well.

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~ by letarteps on April 19, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Positives of Racial and Ethnic Stereotyping”

  1. When I was reading your post, I couldn’t help but think of a friend of mine who is actually Hispanic (she’s from Guatemala), but her skin color is ambiguous enough that she’s often mistaken for Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, etc. She tells stories of being on vacation and random people come up to her and her family and start speaking Arabic (they definitely don’t speak Arabic) – it’s funny to think about. So it seems to me that she is bonding with more ethnic groups (or stereotypes) than she actually belongs to. In a way, it’s an advantage because there many groups of people that can identify with her (sometimes falsely). I might even be a little jealous, I mean, the only other people I can identify with are other white people and she gets everybody:)

  2. Not having a sense of ethnic identity must be difficult to deal with at times, so I empathize for you. I’m fortunate to have two parents with fairly distinct ethnic backgrounds, so I can’t really identify; however, being excluded from a group connection in any form obviously doesn’t produce good feelings. I find your comment about nationalism and genetics to be interesting. People often complain about the lack of cohesive unity in America, but I think our unique heterogeneity is at least partly responsible. We are unlike any other country in our racial composition, which makes our obsessive pursuit to accept “diversity” somewhat moot. There will always be ethnic distinctions made by members of in- and out-groups alike.

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