Are they inherently wrong? I think about this quite a bit. What about positive stereotypes? Are they ok?
I spent lots of time trying to enlighten my parents, to no avail. When my mother talked about "Orientals", I explained that an Oriental was a rug, and that the correct term was "Asian." This to a woman with a Korean daughter-in-law. Oh, well.
In the last few days, some of my stereotypes have been challenged. Specifically, those for Asian people and young men with dreadlocks. That's another post, though. Not enough time now.
I'll just talk about a stereotype that was reinforced today. I pulled into the parking lot at the bank and there were only two open spots close by. They were next to a pickup truck with five or six men sitting in the bed or standing around. They were landscape workers, and looked a little rough. I considered parking farther away or on the other side of the building, but I am bound and determined to not be afraid or to buy into stereotypes, so I parked in the spot next to them. I got out of the car and as I walked past, I smiled and said hello. The guy in charge bounded over and said he wasn't going to bother me (ummm, shouldn't that go without saying?), but wanted me to have his business card. I thanked him and went on my way. As I walked away from them, I was wishing I'd worn my burka today instead of my jeans that are just a tad too snug. Maybe the sounds I heard behind me had to do with the great lunch they were planning after their bank trip.
Once I got into the safety of the bank, my prejudice kicked in. Were they just loitering and soliciting customers needing their services? Then I saw a man in the bank line who looked like he was with that crew. Was that a stereotype, too? Assuming he was with them?
I was hoping they'd be gone when I finished my banking, but they were still there. So I walked around the lobby (so much for not being fearful) and the third time I checked, they were gone. So I went on my way.
But I can't get that experience out of my mind. It makes me sad that they didn't return my respect. I wonder how many east Memphis women I know would have parked somewhere else, or not made eye contact. No matter what, I refuse to treat people like they're invisible. I know how painful it is to be ignored.
But still, no matter how enlightened I'd like to think I am, the unbidden anxiety betrays me.
Just maybe, though, it's ok to avoid groups of rough looking men in parking lots when I'm not in my burka. In fact, now that I think about it, if they'd been white instead of African American or Mexican, I'm quite sure I would've parked on the other side of the building. So maybe I'm trying too hard. Overcompensating.
Unfortunately, I've probably had more than my share of these situations. And every time, it makes me sad.
Welcome to my world!
My life's been crazy since my Daddy moved in with me immediately after my mother's death in October 2010. My one and only kiddo headed to college at Carolina at the end of August. So...I lived on my own, for the first time in my life, for a total of a blissful six weeks. Then, I started the parenting gig with my dad. He's a combination of a grouchy old man, a surly teenager and a temperamental toddler. Needless to say, I get very close to the brink of insanity sometimes. I get through life by finding the humor in difficult circumstances. And for some reason, I wind up in the weirdest situations. I couldn't make this stuff up. So I wind up having lots and lots crazy adventures which make great stories to share with my friends. Writing about my life is so therapeutic. My ramblings range from funny to sad to angry (full of cuss words) to sweet. While my focus is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a parent to my Daddy, I have lots of random, totally unrelated posts. Whatever's on my mind. I love to make people laugh, and I'm happy to think my readers will get my strange sense of humor. And maybe, people who are in my situation will be encouraged. That's all I can hope for...