This I Believe

Michael - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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“So Stereotypical”

I believe that stereotyping is wrong and is happening to people everyday. There is no one place that it is happening, it’s ubiquitous. Stereotyping isn’t always based upon skin color, but also on clothing, music, and many other things.

When I was younger, I was oblivious to stereotypes. I thought that it was just a fancy word for racism. Then my friends were being stereotyped by police officers. I was shocked at this and it sparked up my belief of stereotyping.

Some of my friends are of African American descent and dress with baggy clothes and fitted caps. They were stereotyped on the way that they dress. An officer saw them walking to a corner store and decided to stop them for questioning. The officer was accusing them for a crime they did not commit. There was no evidence that my friends were linked to this crime in any way, yet the cop still questioned them. It wasn’t a racist act, because they were in a black community where they could’ve asked anybody about the crime.

The law, school, and the workplace are all examples of where stereotyping is taking place. I still wasn’t a hundred percent sure what stereotyping was like, until I got a first hand experience of it. In school, for the way I dress, I am stereotyped all the time. Administrators see me as a careless and disrespectful ‘thug’. They don’t say these things exactly, but they are implied. When I get a small detention for being late to homeroom three times, they begin to talk about how I dress, drugs, and things like that. I mean, I was just late, don’t blame me for anything else.

Also a lot of kids I know are more disrespectful than I am and they dress ‘nice’. Nice as in not baggy ‘thuggish’ type clothes. I see some of these kids yell at their parents, teachers, and other adults but nobody would think they are disrespectful because they dress ‘nice’.

There are also a lot of biased kids around me. Kids judge people just on how they are dressed. Kids see me dressed in big clothes, a hat, and sunglasses, and automatically think I’m a ‘wigger’ or a ‘wankster’. They judge me when they don’t even know who I am. Some other examples are how some kids that are wealthy think that all poor people aren’t as good as they are. While on the other hand, some of the poor kids think that all rich people are snotty and spoiled.

Its things like that that make me believe stereotyping is wrong. I have rich friends, poor friends, Spanish, black, white, Asian, and interracial friends. I know that my friends look, dress, and talk different, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be similar in some ways.

I don’t judge somebody before I know them and choose not to be their friend. I get to know the person and decide if it’s somebody I can be friends with. I don’t care about how people dress, talk, or anything else.

I see stereotyping all the time. My friends and I are stereotyped along with people I don’t even know. I believe that stereotyping is wrong, it is ubiquitous, and it needs to be stopped.