Stereotypes in American Society

Michael - Dowagiac, Michigan
Entered on October 9, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: prejudice, race

In today’s American society there are many stereotypes. Many of them come

from the fact that many people judge one another by how they look or how

they behave publicly. If you talk or look a different way then, people tend

to shy away from you and look at you awkwardly simply because you choose to

be your own person.

I have been victim to this many times especially in school. Me being a 15

year-old African-American teen born from East-African parents, many expect

me to not be interested in school, to dress the “gangsta” fashion, or to

talk Ebonics. For those who barely know where my parents come from and

barely know me they expect me to be like a refugee or talk with an accent or

“clicks”. I always laugh when my friends tell me “you don’t act black” or

“you don’t hang out with many of your own people”. Then I asked them a

question, “What do you mean by my own people?” It was a simple question but

people could never give me a straight answer each time. I was always left

puzzled by the answers. Some would say, “You know your color” or for those

that realize I’m African, “Your African people.”

I have never put much attention to the comments and gestures before I got

into 8th grade year to the comments. Then my freshmen year came and the

comments seemed to be more of toward the offensive rather than jokes that my

friends would pass around on occasion. They were said by people that I

hadn’t seen for a while or never seen at all. It seemed that people couldn’t

stay away from judging a person just like a 3 year old would. It seemed if

you weren’t this way then you don’t belong here. I never took them too

seriously instead I was minding my own business. Then in my freshmen

physical science class, a person asked me, “Do you have any black friends?”

I thought to myself “What would make you ask such a question?” “What was I

wearing that made them ask?” “What did I say?” “Who did I talk to?” There

were more questions but the question that came out of my mouth was a

surprise to the person and me. “Is it because I don’t act uneducated?” I

said. The person spoke with resentment to their friend and asked “Did you

hear what he said?” “He asked, ‘Is it because I don’t act uneducated?’” The

other didn’t understand what the person meant at first. Then she said,

“Basically he says it’s because he doesn’t act black?” The person was right.

Although my statement was controversial in a sense that was the truth,

that’s just one of the questions I’ve had in response to those questions in

my life.

This led me to believe that many stereotypes are derived from the judgment

that many people put on others and clearly don’t take time to understand

others let alone themselves.