Monday, May 16, 2011

Leroy Barber On The Danger Of Racial Stereotypes

Photo Credit: japi14
Leroy Barber, a pastor and president of Mission Year, offers some food for thought when it comes to racial stereotypes:
"The problem with stereotypes is that they are generalities used as descriptors of categories of people. When these generalities are used as descriptors outside of relationship — and sometimes within — they form our opinions about groups of people that may or may not be true about individuals within that demographic (e.g., white people have no rhythm.) This leads to relational breakdown and causes a lot of pain (e.g, all Asians know karate.)

I met a white man who could not dance or play basketball, and it solidified what I thought I knew of white people. Oh yeah, and I was poor and from the city — weren’t all black people? Our relationships will go nowhere if we let our misinformed stereotypes dictate them.

We now live in a world where stereotypes are less and less true, but we still have Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford type of relationships. (Google them if you’re too young to know the reference.) The city is for poor black people, restaurants or dry cleaners for Chinese, 7-Eleven for Indians, construction for Mexicans, reservations for Native Americans, and though white people can’t dance, they are all rich. These all sound absurd and yet we live as though they are true for everyone. Our stereotypes are falling every day – will we be able to relate outside of them?"
To read Rev. Barber's complete post, please click here.

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