I am sitting chatting with a colleague in the student lounge. A young black student enters the lounge and sits next to us. My colleague, whose phone is on the table, looks at the black student, picks up the phone, and puts it in her handbag. “Black male students are thieves,” she then whispers to me. After such an occurrence, I am wondering if stereotyping still exists in the 21st century.
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Let us look at Rika Najera and Brent Staples essays on stereotyping in American society. Rika’s essay, The Hollywood lens on Latinos, is out of focus, is about gender and race stereotypes in the USA. Brent’s essay Just walks on by – a black man ponders his ability to alter public space, explains the triumphs of young Afro-Americans against the stereotypes created by society.
Solutions offered to stereotypes include facing situations through confrontation, ignorance, or the application of both. Confrontation acts as a remedy to decrease future stereotyping. For cases that apply the confrontation method to offer solutions, use politeness to play a key role in communication, and the reasons for the confrontation are explained. The use of confrontation may differ depending on circumstances. Many people do not like being questioned about what they believe in, and this solution may create disagreement among people.
When we ignore stereotypes, we face benefits and costs. One benefit is that it creates a calm and peaceful environment that lacks confrontation or exchange of words. This happens when stereotyped people ignore stereotyping comments. The less likely get upset by the attacker. The costs of ignoring stereotypes are very crucial as lack of confrontation leads to creating and supporting new and existing stereotypes. The person also falls into the stereotypes and approve of the behavior of the aggressor. Further, the person might be hurt and feel bad about the subject of the stereotype.
When we look closely at solutions offered by both writers, we realize that there are Rika offers confrontation as the solution to dealing with stereotypes, while Brent offers ignorance. The author’s research on different circumstances of stereotyping and offer solutions based on the nature of stereotypes. This, therefore, explains that either ignorance or confrontation can act as a solution to stereotyping, depending on the present circumstances.
We also find some similarities in Rika’s and Brent’s essays. Their essays are similar in that they present gender, race, and color stereotypes in American society. Rika’s essay explains the stereotypes attributed to Latino by the media, while Brent explains on stereotyping of young black Americans. Rika believes that Latino’s presentation in the media is full of stereotypes due to the lack of their inclusion and representation in writing and in Hollywood (Rika par.18). Both Rika and Brent further encounter cases of gender stereotyping. Rika believes that “young white male writers decide what we’ll consume, see, and believe about the world around us” (Rika par.4). This statement acts as a clear sign of a society where women are victims of stereotypes due to gender. Gender stereotyping is also found in Brent’s essay, where he explains his personal experience. The author describes that when he met a woman along the streets, “she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist, or worse” (Brent 1). This happened because he was a young black man, and young black men in the society represented gangsters, thieves, and rapists.
We can comfortably say that both Rika and Brent offer solutions to the issue of stereotyping based on the circumstances of its occurrence. The solutions that they offer bring out a picture of recognition and peaceful co-existence in the society. Rika offers a solution that aims at fighting for the Latinos’ fair presentation in the media and doing away with stereotyping (Rika par.24). On the other hand, Brent creates a peaceful environment by employing several precautions to his life and movements. He believes that walking out on people who seem skittish to avoid their fear of being followed, whistling melodies as he walks along the streets, and being calm have helped him deal with stereotypes (Brent 4). Both the two researchers, therefore, offer solutions that promote a society where they can co-exist with their attackers.
Both writers agree on an American culture characterized by the white stereotyping other races (Brent 1, Rika par. 4). This is clearly depicted by the white writers and discussed in both essays as such writings misrepresent other races. Rika explains that a media industry is characterized by “white male domination of Hollywood writers writing from an uninformed point of view” (Rika par 12). Brent, identifies writings by Norman Podhoretz, who, according to him, displays black men as tough and ruthless (Brent 1). Both the authors share the same ideas that the media has created stereotypes in society at the cost of minorities. Further, they believe in various solutions that make society a better place for all people to co-exist peacefully.
Briefly, let us look at how Rick and Brent apply solutions to dealing with stereotypes in their essays. Despite different circumstances faced by the writers, Rika’s use of confrontation as a method to offer a solution to stereotype differs from Brent’s ignorance method. Rika confronts the situation by demanding solutions like, “we need to demand more women and more minority writers” (Rika par 24). Brent, however, is calm and offers a solution through employing ignorance and a change of lifestyle (Brent 3). This, therefore, creates a disagreement platform that makes Rika seem harsh, and Brent depicts calmness in dealing with stereotypes.
Personally, I would agree with both Rika’s and Brent’s solutions. Rika’s solution is of paramount importance as he wants to fight for fair treatment of minorities and stereotyped races. His “demand” for fair representation works well in situations that must completely change. The use of aggressiveness in cases where people feel misrepresented is important. Aggressiveness creates awareness in society about the issue at hand. This explains why Rika demands fair representation. On the other hand, Brent’s solution is that, for him to coexist peacefully in the community, he has to use several tactics of confronting stereotypes. Peaceful coexistence in society demands that people learn to live in harmony. Brent realizes that for him to survive in his community, he had to learn to live with the others; hence he devised ways of interacting.
We live in a society where people handle stereotypes differently. There are those who choose to face or ignore to offer solutions. This, however, depends on the relationships between a person and the attacker. Whichever method is employed may seek a permanent solution or destroy the relationship between the subjects. In regard to the case discussed in the first chapter, I would use the confrontation method. This would involve a polite explanation of the effects of stereotyping people according to their color and race, as well as treating people equally means disregard in some way what the society around us believes in. I would also explain the effects of stereotyping on society and urge my colleague to view people positively. I believe that this would offer a perfect solution to the issue of stereotyping created by my colleague.
Najera, Rika. “The Hollywood Lens on Latinos is Out of Focus”. National Association of Latino Independent Producers. n.d. Web.
Staples, Brent. Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Ability to Alter Public Space. n.d. PDF file. Web.