The Effect of Racial Stereotyping

Many believe that biases form after multiple experiences with others, and are based in some kind of reality. However, it really only takes one experience to form a concrete belief -- and it's hard to get rid of that belief once formed. Although people know that many racial stereotypes are untrue, it is difficult for individuals to disregard those stereotypes, because people tend to attribute the negative actions of an individual to their entire identity.

Racial stereotyping is defined as the beliefs about distinctive characteristics common to members of a culture, according to a site found on Wikipedia’s reference page. As stated in the quote, these are “common” beliefs formulated by people in society. The fact that the site uses the word “common” implies that those with prejudices educate their children to have a certain prejudice towards others. In addition, because these prejudices are being passed down from generation to generations, a never ending cycle of negative bias is created. Psychology Today expands on this concept, with the idea that human beings have an unconscious prejudice towards those foreign to their own ethnic group, because of their exposure to such ideas during early development. In conclusion, stereotypes that have become almost second nature, outweighing any and all notions that oppose the assumptions of an individual.

Islamophobia is one example of religious stereotyping, which is defined as the fear and hatred of muslims. This kind of resentment escalated after the coordinated 9/11 attacks on America by the terrorist group known as Al Qaeda. The attack resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 Americans as well as the nineteen members of Al Qaeda, who executed the strikes. However, the tragic deaths of U.S citizens were not the only aspects of this violent act that society suffered. According to the Daily Beast, a poll from October of 2001 showed that 47% of Americans had a favorable view of muslim citizens. This percentage of favorable views dropped to about 27% by 2014. This drastic decrease in the polls was a direct result of prejudices formed after only a handful of Muslim citizens, like Al Qaeda, committed violent acts against society. These negative actions effectively branded all muslim citizens as violent terrorist, based on the survey portrayed by the polls.

This kind of negative stereotyping does not only apply to people overseas. On Monday, September 14th, 2015 Texas youth, Ahmed Mohammed, was arrested by police for bringing a homemade clock to school, which his teacher believed to be a bomb. The officers, who arrested him, proceeded to interrogate the frightened teenager about the alleged bomb as well as his intentions. Ahmed stated, on an interview with CNN, that "I built a clock to impress my teacher but when I showed it to her, she thought it was a threat to her." The fact that the teacher believed the clock was a threat, namely a bomb, supports the idea that she had racial bias towards an innocent muslim American, who had the sole intention of impressing his class. In addition, the idea that the clock was believed to be a bomb, which is commonly associated with the notion of terrorism, is a representation of stereotypical views of muslim citizens being a threat to society because of the past actions of a few.

Although this topic may seem to only revolve around minority groups such as Muslim citizens, this is an issue that embodies a barrier between social relations in society. It is the underlying cause that has led to the injustice against countless innocents over the past couple of years. However, this issue has not been fully resolved because of the public's perception, of racial stereotyping, being clouded by their own opinions about other individuals.  

Works Cited

  1. Paul, Annie. "Where Bias Begins: The Truth About Stereotypes."Psychology Today. 1 May 1998. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

  2. "Teen Ahmed Mohamed Brings Clock to School, Gets Arrested -" CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

  3. Obeidallah, Dean. "13 Years After 9/11, Anti-Muslim Bigotry Is Worse Than Ever." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

  4. "Ethnic Stereotype." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Sept. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.

Comments (5)

Benjamin Simon (Student 2017)
Benjamin Simon

You brought some interesting points of view to light and I thought the statistic Daily Beast is a great choice. Although racial stereotyping is a theme that I am aware about, this 2fer helped bring to light ideas and concepts that I had not previously thought about.

Leon Finney (Student 2017)
Leon Finney

This did not expand my mind on the topic of racial stereotyping. The person gave some good examples of stereotyping but like they said in the last paragraph the passage only talked about the terrorism of Muslims and how American might look towards them after the 9/11 attack.