Social media plays a role in perpetuating stereotypes

Jamie Stroud, Staff

Every day animals fight; over land, food, mates, dominance. Adult dogs will fight one another even though they are the same species just not the same family. Males dragonflies will kill other males that come into their territory just because they intrude on their space. We don’t think twice about this, it’s normal, they are animals.

Humans are animals to.

On June 12, 2015 the #AskRachel trended on social media around the US, yet another example of racial stereotypes being portrayed on social media. There were thousands of #AskRachel tweets, and each and every one was a racial stereotype where a question was asked and the point was to prove that anyone who couldn’t answer the question couldn’t claim the identity of an African American.

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For thousands years people have been categorizing, or in better terms stereotyping, in many cases it has been necessary for our survival. Figure out who is a friend and who is a foe, then use that information for future situations.

“The racial stereotypes usually have a historical backing and some reason for them, making them harder to eradicate, “ states Steve O’Donoghue, a director at California scholastic journalism initiative. Stereotyping is such a “human thing to do” but we could definitely reduce the consequences of the stereotypes.

It all begins at childhood, in a study conducted by “20/20” children were put into three groups and were shown two pictures; one of an Arab man, and another of a Japanese man then were asked who they liked better. Again and again they replied that the Japanese man looked way nicer.

Over and over children said “Yeah, he does look nicer, and he has a smile on!” even though both men were smiling. Then the kids were asked what they might be like, kids said that the arab looks “weird” and like a “scary dude.”

The only nice thing the kids said about the African American was he looked like a basketball player.

They performed the same experiment with a picture of an African American male and a Caucasian male, yet again the kids were quickly to think that the Caucasian would be nicer. Even know he was grimacing “he might be mad about something” stated a young boy.

“He probably was picking up on something, this is Oklahoma city bomber Timothy McVeigh. But when asked who might be a criminal most kids pointed to the black man, and when we asked what man might be the teacher they pointed to the white man,” stated John Stossel, the main reporter in the “20/20” study.

According to O’Donoghue the problem with stereotyping is the second one person fits into the stereotype people automatically think everyone will fit into it.

“Just from cultural we all have beliefs, or stereotypes about how a certain person is supposed to act, so if they act in that way then it reinforces that,” he says.

One example of stereotyping are the stereotypes attached to dreadlocks. According to Joey Flores who wrote “Top Ten Stereotypes About Dreadlocks,” many believe people with dreads do drugs and the dreads themselves smell bad.

This February Fashion Police was in hot water after racial comments were made on the show referring to Zendaya’s hair at the Oscars. Zendaya quickly replied over social media in a very moving post. An apology was made the next day.

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Another commonly used stereotype states that all Indians and Asians excel in school. This doesn’t mean they should be put to higher standards than other students or should be looked down upon if they don’t fit this standard.

Have you ever been told you “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl?” People say it all the time, it’s just something we say, but it is a huge stereotype to all woman. When someone tells another they throw like a girl it’s saying all girls are weak or not as strong as men.

In many cases it’s not the actual stereotype that is bad, it’s the separation it puts on people that apply and the idea that they are different. This alone can create a lot of tension and arguments not just in person but over social media as well. It has become such a widespread problem that many have started to address it, as shown in the always commercial “#LikeAGirl.”

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In 2006 Mel Gibson was arrested for a DUI while police were putting him into custody, he said “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” When this got out the world went into a frenzy. Eventually Gibson made an apology, but in 2010 voicemails were released of Gibson ranting after him and his girlfriend broke things off. In the voicemails he made many stereotypes and says horrible things about both African Americans and Mexicans.

O’Donoghue believes that we have made a lot of progress in reducing the stereotypes but at this point many think that stereotypes have been resolved. So the first step would be to admit that they are still a huge issue, and what steps we are willing to take to resolve them.

Luckily over the past few years people have moved on from just accepting the stereotype “but actually getting to know them as a person”

Social media has made many strides to eliminate stereotypes, and people are definitely more willing to speak up to any injustice. These changes represent the future for stereotypes, or lack of them.

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