Why Stereotyping Is Dangerous and Divisive

Stereotypes can hold great power and they can divide us as people.

By Shania, London · March 18, 2019


Pic: Pixabay Creative Commons /Geralt

I come from an ethnic minority background, and there are many stereotypes out there about me. A stereotype is an idea that people have about what someone or something is like. Many of the stereotypes about me suggest that I am just the same as others with my heritage and not an individual. I am judged by the colour of my skin first, and everything else about me second.

Being stereotyped isn’t a pleasant experience. Instead, it is stripping someone of their individuality and identity and putting them into a category based on the characteristics they may (or may not!) share.

Some people will argue that they can’t help stereotyping, and others may say they are just joking around. When people say that I roll my eyes. I don’t like being stereotyped because I’m my own person. I’m not the same as anyone else, and I never wish to be. No one person is the same, so why should they have to live under the restrictions of a particular stereotype?

Stereotypes can lead to us judging people, and contribute to the way we choose to interact with and act around them. This can lead to prejudice and discrimination against a person without having any knowledge about them. It can lead people to believe in things about a specific group of people that aren’t true. It can lead to people having extreme views on a person and acting upon these views in a violent way. In this scenario, stereotyping becomes physically dangerous.

Stereotypes can influence and change the way a person feels or acts towards something or someone. They can shape our educational performances and the career paths we may choose. They can divide us. Refusing to stereotype people will always make a significant difference. We should never let ourselves be divided.