When Students Deal with Racial Stereotypes

Daphne is a sixteen-year-old from California. Her interests pertain to everything, but most of her activities revolve around writing, reading, playing music, dance, travel, and chillaxing with the fambam and friends.

Racial stereotypes do bother me to a certain extent. At my school, being an ethnicity of color is always sure to entice some racial jokes. I admit sometimes it can fill the vacant spots of a conversation with humor. I find that hanging out with a group of people who are the same race even sometimes turn the joke on themselves for fun. However, there are definitely also moments where they are extremely hurtful and obviously meant to degrade someone’s confidence or social status. Sometimes I’m expected to be smart enough to do other people’s homework, and although being labeled as smart isn’t exactly degrading, I also don’t like for people to expect me to be conservative or have a name that sounds like spoons clinking down a stairway. Perhaps racial jokes are meant to be funny, but their existence precipitates the judging of other people’s capabilities and likes due to their race. In high school, I have found that when I responded to the caustic remarks, people actually seemed to be surprised about the truth about who I was.

Where exactly do stereostypes come from? All stereotypes do come from truth, even the jokes I’ve heard about Mexicans being able to swiftly jump fences or always take up jobs by waiting on the side of the street. People need to understand  that once these immigrants come to America, they need to revert to other ways of making a living in order to survive.  Another reason may be, of course, the multiple misunderstandings between two cultures. As a result, those who actually make the jokes are those who do not know how to grasp such different concepts. I am proud of where I come from, and I dislike it when people label me as belonging to a different race, but this can come from a lack of information. Maybe some are not willing to learn about others, but in the end understanding cultures is a key to living peacefully in this world. In the end, this world is made of people who have the same types of fears and hopes for themselves and their loved ones once they are broken down to the fundamentals. Therefore, the jokes do not necessarily need to stop, but for people to stop using the stereotypes in order to inaccurately judge the qualities of other people’s personalities.

Throughout high school, a time when we are supposed to prepare ourselves as people about to head out into the “real world”, those dealing daily with these racial stereotypes must not allow themselves to be defined by it. Other times there is no need to take it seriously, for such cruel humor may come from the innocence of ignorance. The choices one makes during this critical time will form the person that one will actually become, not the race.

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