A Pluralist Thought Regarding Stereotypes

23Jun07

Nerd

Latoya Peters is one of my favorite commenters on race and stereotypes in society, and her posts on Racialicious are usually worth reading. Recently, she wrote a post discussing racism in video games. In her post she chose to focus on a rebuttal to criticism by Chris Mottes, CEO of Deadline Games. Her post is very well thought out, and details both the good and bad things the developer brought up. However, one thing she said caught my eye in particular:

The reality is that no stereotype can be considered light-hearted and humorous. A stereotype is defined as “an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group.” Stereotypes are negative. Even “positive” stereotypes are ultimately detrimental to the groups that struggle to find a sense of self within the narrow parameters of society’s vision.

My personal opinion is in line with Latoya’s. I find strength and power in individuality, and I believe that diversity is beneficial to society on both a micro and macro level. It has the ability to create more efficient outcomes, enrich lives, and to simply keeps things fresh if things all start looking the same.

However, what if I came from a society that valued inclusiveness and sameness? Would I still consider stereotypes to be negative? Would my society have a different opinion? Would stereotyping be viewed as a compliment, or maybe some sort of ideal to aspire to? I can’t be sure.

There is a lot of work to be done in America in order to eliminate currently lingering stereotypes, and I wouldn’t want to slow any movement in that direction. However, I do think it’s important that we be conscious of the fact that some societies may not judge stereotyping in the same way Americans do. If we don’t, we may run into increasing miscommunication as cultures come into ever closer contact around the world.

If we can’t put aside our own views in order to see the world through others’ perspectives, how can we expect them to do the same for us?

*Photo courtesy of theCallowQueen

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