Racial stereotypes are the assumptions that people make about other individuals based strictly on their race. There are stereotypes for all races and ethnicities. Racial stereotypes can be grounded in racist beliefs or they may be true of a few people but are generalized to include anyone of a particular race. There are some stereotypes that have been used as a basis of humor. Some of these include "white people don't have rhythm" or "African Americans are good at basketball." Obviously these stereotypes are in fact generalizations of a few being applied to the entire race.
If you need help formulating topics for a racial stereotyping project, consider the following questions:
- Do you consider yourself part of the dominant racial-ethnic group or part of a subordinate racial-ethnic group in the United States? In what specific ways might your life be different if you were in the opposite group?
- Sociologists suggest that we acquire beliefs about ourselves and others though socialization. What specific messages have you received about your racial-ethnic identity? What specific messages have you received about dealing with people from other racial-ethnic groups?
- Have all white Americans, regardless of class, gender, or other characteristics, benefited from racial prejudice and discrimination in the United States? Why or why not?
- Compare recent depictions of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos/as, and Asian and Asian Americans in films, television shows, and advertisements. To what extent have we moved beyond the traditional stereotypes? To what extend have the stereotypes remained strong?
Many stereotypes take on a more serious and sometimes offensive tone. One of these is that all Asians are geniuses. Many Asian children attending schools in the United States are immediately identified as smarter and out performing other students. This stereotype, like many, is grounded is some truth. Statistics do show that Asia children do out perform their white and African American counterparts, but there are also statistically fewer of them, which skews the statistics.
Another racial stereotype is that all people from the Middle East hate Americans. This stereotype has continued to gain steam over the past decade in light of terrorist cells and media coverage. The truth is that there are many Middle Eastern people who chose to live in the United States and studies show that a majority of Middle Easterners love the United States.
Another common stereotype is that all white people are racist. It is true that some white people are racist, but there are many who are not. This stereotype is grounded in America's dark past concerning slavery. The assumption is that all white American's are descendants of slave owners so on turn it makes they racist. The truth is that not every American was a slave owner or believed in the practice of slavery. In fact, research shows that white people are no more racist than any other group of people.
The historical stereotypes of power in foreign lands during the colonial period which ended after World War II are European colonial domination of Asian, American, and Africa peoples and countries. Most of the American colonization came to an end in the 1700s and early 1800s beginning with the American Revolution. Most of the Asian and African colonization came to an end in the years after World War II. This stereotype of the domination of European culture entailed the domination of the Caucasian race over the native races of Asia, America, and Africa. In the writings of V. S. Naipaul, he presents the native side of the colonial stereotype. Native cultures have typically been separated from their roots with the natives themselves left trying to ope as best they could.