Stereotypes are happening everywhere, they are living and ingrained within us. According to the definition from introduction to sociology, “stereotype are the oversimplified ideas about groups of people. Stereotype can be considered on race, gender, ethnicity, career, income, age, sexual orientation and almost any characteristics. “The possible consequences and impacts that stereotypes can create are various, therefore discrimination and arbitrary groups of people in the society are very important. Stereotype can be defined differently from scholars to researchers and general people. If we ask where do stereotypes come from? They could be new or recycled from the past. According to Adichie, an African novelist and writer asserts that stereotype are the form of a single story, “Show people as one thing, over and over again and that is what they become.” People often trap in the bubble when they get only a second story, without acknowledging the truth and fact behind it. Hence, media, power and personal belief can be used to empower or destroy stereotypes; and in many ways that these three factors have played a significance role in our life, especially when it comes to understanding and sharing social events as well as culture around the world.
First of all, media has become one of the most important element in human and world ecosystem. It is so powerful that sometimes people used it to empower or slanted something over another. And that misused activities can lead to many damaging such as culture, value and significance of a group or society. According to Cofer, a professor at Georgia University and the author of an essay call “The myth of Latin Woman: I met a girl name Maria” has commented on how media has portrayed Latin woman and her value in a so-called public commercial. “Mixed cultural signals have perpetuated certain stereotypes- for example of Hispanic woman as the hot-tamale or sexual firebrand. It is a one-dimensional view that media have found easy to promote.” (232). This evidence demonstrates how media injected one-side story again and again, that eventually creates a recycle stereotype among people. Besides, media usually present many stories that are untrue and imbalance just to get more interest and profit. With this in mind, when talking about media creates stereotype and filter bubble, it won’t be complete without including fake news, which usually goes viral faster than real story. Again, during US election campaign could be the best example to talk about media effects, and how it help provides a positive reinforcement to racism in the United States at large.
Equally important, power also one of the main source that nursing stereotype to grow and spread among people. Usually, those who have power will create boundary or define what should be and not acceptable, or how many stories or angles should be told in the society. According to Adichie, “The single story creates stereotype and problem…stereotype is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story”. It is true when a stereotype once untrue and true mixed together, then it becomes something complete. However, when the single story come in one side, then the matter of the story immediately becomes biased. As Adichie has exclaims in her Ted Talk “my roommate had a single story of African: a single story of catastrophe. In this single, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feeling more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.” Thus, stereotype and single story are not only the issues of misunderstanding but also a root cause of humanization, which continue to led us to group people and put them in their place forever.
Particularly, I often stereotyped about Africa as poor, hungry, diseases, less education and desert countries. I never knew they also have nature, wildlife, and many resources that available for development. It implied that I received only a single story which is not complete and been slanted by media and my surrounding environments. It seem true that the countries with power and economic leads such as United States have stories in the headline more than poor countries such Africa and Cambodia. What people know about Cambodia is that a place full of war, genocide and poor. It is true but just a small part of our country — Cambodia also home to a world tourism landmark (Angkor Wat) and rich in culture and nature too. However, because the history of Genocide plus having less power, it made that single story so outstanding, which overshadowed the whole image of Cambodia at all. In comparison, such a rich countries like United States usually have a good images representation than poor countries. As my experiences, all I thought about America is great, powerful, rich, and both economic and technological advances. But then I see the economic supremacy and income gaps among people, I realized that I have been deceived by a single story which is dangerous toward my thinking and how I see the world from my little corner of it.
Last but important, stereotype can be created by cultural and personal belief. Sometimes no one tell people to hate others people or humanize them but ourselves and environment itself.
According to Staples, a New York Times journalist and the author of “Just Walk on By: A black Man ponder his power to alter the public space”, this piece of work is unfolded the truth about why and how people themselves perceived stereotype “I soon gathered that being perceived as dangerous is a hazard itself. I become familiar with the language of fear… It is clear that woman thought herself the quarry of a mugger, rapist, perpetrator or worse” (Staples, 239). It is not only that stereotype can makes people feel unsafe but people who are being stereotyped also feel themselves vulnerable and victim too. As Staples said, when a young woman ran away from him because to avoid being a victim, then the situation left Staples to be a victim while he was innocent. In my experience, we often been told by the older people or friends that not to trust black people, they’re not good, perhaps drug dealer or human trafficker too. So we as young, we believe it and subconsciously react to what we have learnt and told. However, my parents did not told me to stereotype or hate other people, but the environment around me does. I tend to hate the group of people if my friends did so. That is to say, stereotype are forming not only from outside but also from inside too.
All in all, stereotyping are really dangerous and they can absent our human-unity and harmony in society. The top three reasons that causes of stereotypes are media, power and personal beliefs. Since one sensational story can overshadowed good story easily, people should educate themselves by trying to understand about other people and questioned things critically so that they can have a better awareness about stereotype. By doing more research, reading, talking and getting to know about other people lives that would be a great contribution to reduce stereotype in our society. If I knew Oprah, Adichie, Mandela earlier, I would not misjudge about African. If people knew that Cambodia is home to world natural and cultural heritage, they would not think Cambodia is a catastrophe. If I know that media have manipulated me about stereotype, I will try to do more reading and be a media literate person, especially not to keep silence when I face such issue. Great models such as Loung, Cofer, Staples, and Adichie, they write and speak to provide a new set of reality. They write to educate, to call for action and to persuade people how stereotype creates problems in society. Additionally, the movement such as “Black Lives Matter” and great stories about African- American on media can really make a huge impacts on how people think about them as a whole. Last but not least, promoting equality and multiculturalism within communities would also allow people to speak up and share their voices better. Through these implications, the stereotype can be reduce and better in the future.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz. “The myth of the Latin Woman: I met a girl name Maria.”
The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry, 1993, pp.232
Staples, Brent. “Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter the Public Space.” 1986, pp. 239
Adichie, Chimamanda. “The danger of the Single Story.” Ted Talk, 2009
My paper from Creative Writing Class © 2017 Love Soun