Friday, October 15, 2010

Flattering stereotypes

Whenever we talk about racial stereotypes, it's usually a serious matter. As we all know racial stereotypes are a combination of A. ridiculous ideas that people made up to make themselves feel better, and B. actual evidence that often proves stereotypes to be true. The latter doesn't make them any more legitimate but it does make them hard to debunk.

But some of them are... kinda funny and/or flattering. Do Black men really want to take the time to convince men of other races that the size of their... well, my parents read this blog, so I'll stop here.

A few stereotypes that don't call for civil rights attorneys (shoutout to Lomax) include:

1. Black girls' hair is almost never their own. True, many Black women, wear weaves, extensions, braids, and other... we'll say supplements to whip their hair back and forth. A lot of times this is to preserve the health of their own hair while allowing creativity. But we don't ALL wear weave. Whenever my hair is professionally styled extremely straight, my Caucasian coworkers gush, "Oh my gosh, I LOVE your hair! How much of that is yours?" They don't even ASK if it's mine. I can't help but to chuckle, and give it a tug so they see its attachment to my scalp.

2. White girls can't handle scary situations without tripping over their white privilege in the forest. I don't know if all the movie directors/producers/screenwriters got together and decided that to make up for slavery, they'd show all White girls either A. stumbling along a smooth path just when they should run, or B. frozen to their chair in a state of shock as the villain approaches, but for some reason it always happens. Then again... the Black guy always dies, so we're still behind. *Sigh*

3. Black people love BET. We don't. Well, all of us don't. We watch it sometimes because they rerun good television, and because we've had our fill of Friends/Seinfeld and want to be reminded really quickly that we do exist in real life. TV be forgetting sometimes.

4. White girls can all play the guitar. This myth isn't a widely purported belief, but nevertheless, it's out there. My two roommates are White. And they can both play guitar. They're actually pretty good. I mentioned this to a friend last night, and she said, "Yeah, girl... you know they all play that acoustic stuff."

5. Black churches all feature a period of shouting, dancing in the aisles, and a "God is trying to tell you something" moment. I grew up in the church, and my dad is an elder in the Pentecostal church, so I've certainly seen it. However, just like all churches in Florida don't feature a Koran burning segment, the Black church is a diverse spectrum that ranges from Catholic-like piety to an all out New Orleans second lining.

6. White people can't dance. Sigh.. this one is sadly true in many cases. I would love to give examples of times when me and my friends of color went out and had our mouths agape at the complete disregard for the rhythm and bass line, but that'd just be rude. I often wonder if they are listening to an entirely different song all together. However, some of them can (Cue imagery of Justin Timberlake, and that famous Youtube guy,) and many Blacks can't! Evidence of this myth is in an interview where Obama was asked, "Do you think Clinton was the first Black president?" He responds seriously, and then adds as a follow-up at 1:50 with the comment, "I would have to investigate more, Bill's Dancing abilities, and some of this other stuff before I accurately judged whether in fact he was a brotha." HI-LA-RIOUS..

7. Asians are really good at math and science. A lot of Asians are good at math and science. (There is a great theory on this in Freakonomics, you should totally read it!) However, some of them are better at break dancing and making sushi. Lay off the stereotypes, geez.

While a lot of these make for funny bantor and great blogging, one of the bad parts about "positive" or harmless racial stereotypes is that it sets a standard that often people can't live up to. I'm telling you, it is hard being a Black person that doesn't know how to dance (errr.. I've heard) or play Spades! And imagine how much it sucks to be a Chinese kid who just can't get quadratic equations. Everyone is thinking, "Shouldn't you be teaching this stuff?!"

Plus, stereotypes of any kind are a slippery slope, and lead to the acceptance of other stereotypes. If you are willing to accept that Blacks are better dancers, who is to stop us from saying that Whites are better readers? Then we get mad, someone's playing 8Ball/MJG/Ludacris, and 'bows are throwed. You can't have it both ways.

What are some other funny racial stereotypes folks?