Are we familiar with these stereotypes?
“Filipinos are all onion skinned.” / “Americans are arrogant.” / “French are chic and conceited.” / “Italian men are mammona” / “Germans are discriminating.” / “Filipino ladies are good cooks, submissive and emotional.” / “She married a foreigner for money.” / “Brits and Aussies are drunkards.”
Stereotypes are generalizations or assumptions that individuals make about the characteristics of all members of a group or a race based on a general adopted image which may or may not accurately represent reality.
One day my eleven year old daughter came home. She told me an Italian boy challenged her in front of their class:
“Hey marroncina, go back to where you came from!” the boy laughed in derision of “little brownie,” tagging.
“And where do you think I come from?” my daughter replied.
“Philippines! Your Mamma is dark and has this funny tomato nose!”
“Where were you born?” my daughter asked.
My daughter told him: “I’m born in Switzerland. I have right to stay and live in this country.”
“Filipinos bring problems, you’re part Filipino.”
My daughter handled the situation well but I didn’t let the incident pass without a brief letter to the school director mentioning that any pinch of discrimination should be avoided with respect to mixed race students.
I learned that the boy’s Italian parents dislike strongly the migrants in Italy. I also received a furious phone call from an Italian mother exclaiming:
“I know you’re a divorcee desperately raising your two daughters. What a shame, you Filipinos… are only here for money, for a better life, to get Swiss passport!”
I replied, “Each one of us define a “better life” in a unique way. Many pass wrong judgment when the “better life” of others prick their own idea of what a better life is. So why stereotype?”
In life, there are degrees which we either correctly use or misuse when stereotyping:
many / the majority /always / all /none /some /a few
Wrong, antagonistic stereotypes:
grow worse as communication closes down
escalate emotions, tensions leading to misunderstanding
impede possible solutions for a team project
strong barrier in adjustment in a new country and culture
block our better understanding of others with different age, race, belief and culture
Sweeping generalization rise from letting our prejudice reign can to wrong assumptions, negative behaviors towards a particular group, and many disadvantageous attitude that can impede interaction and integration.
Stereotypes can be positive when generalizations are needed to be able to interact effectively. Sometimes having some idea of what people are likely to be can determine whether our behaviors towards them will be acceptable or not.
Keep in mind that to have an expectation is okay but we cannot judge any person or race based only on wrong stereotyping without proper honest understanding of the whole situation or properly knowing the person.
Why stereotype people according to their race or why compare and be discontented when you hold a “universal passport” for your chosen kind of “better life” shining through a better heart, an understanding mind and a joyful, good soul?”
About the author
Ana Angelica van Doorn, also known by her pen name Angelica Hopes, is a Filipina writer and poet. Her book Rhythm of a Heart, Music of a Soul can be purchased from Amazon or directly from her website www.angelicahopes.com.