Essence of Stereotyping

New year. New energy.

Asha Rowland, Columnist

With the influx of new students and the “upgrade” from underclassmen to upperclassmen, the mentality of the students this year has changed from that of the previous.

Every year, there is an all-inclusive desire to be better than the previous class, despite the grade level you may be in.20150721_102230

The social norms of 2014 are not gone, but instead have fabricated into something more vibrant. However, with with every light there is also darkness that tends to increase in strength as well.

We need to move forward and keep an open mind, rather than continuously diluting cultural essence by stereotyping with the labels widely used today.  

Maddie Howard, a senior at Glenbard West reflected her opinion on social standards stating, “A lot of stereotypes and profiling exist in our society today.”

With events like the Charleston shooting, the reemerging popularity of the musical gangsta rap group N.W.A , the continued attacks in Palestine, and the backlash against the popularity of the feminist ideology, there are countless media representations that cause people to generalize other cultures. The word for that according to Merriam- Webster, is stereotyping.

Last year, Israa Alzamli, a senior at Glenbard West, spoke to me about the root problem of gender inequality and applied that concept elsewhere.

“Culture is to blame for the majority of our inequality problems, whether it be gender, race, or sexual orientation,” she said, “culture and the way we have been raised is what mainly determines how we act and think.”

Alzamli stresses that a problem our society has is that its culture is to profile individuals based off of their social background. This causes a complete misunderstanding of what the cultures really represent.

For example, it is important to keep in mind that the African American/ Black culture is not “ghetto,” a term that is usually associated with being a poor and disrespectful person. One way this culture can actually be seen is in the music, which has changed over time. Starting with the traditional African music before the American slave trade and segwaying into gospel that was more positive, the music that is stereotyped with the African American/ Black culture now is the anger-driven rap genre.

With that, keep in mind that the Indian culture is not just bindi’s, henna, and mandalas. A bindi signifies the third eye, that is said to retain energy and strength, not a sticker that can be put all over the face for decoration. The place at which the bindi is placed (between the eyebrow) is said to be where the sixth chakra is, which conceals wisdom. Henna, though mainly for decorating use, was originally used for the bride in marriage. The Mandala is supposed to be a representation of the universe and bears a significance when it comes to connecting with the the Hindu Gods. Hinduism, which is widely considered to be religious, is actually a philosophy that stresses the idea of keeping an open mind. There is a story and significance behind each and every cultural tradition.

Keep in mind that being a Muslim is to follow the religion of Islam, not being a terrorist. That most feminists don’t hate men. That just because someone is part of the LGBT community does not mean that they are automatically attracted to you considering the circumstances.

With the new energy of the year, it is urgent that we make it more positive and restrain cultural appropriation. That we become more geared towards accepting all different aspects of culture, rather than stereotyping it.

Energy is a contagious element whether it is positive or negative. The state of mind that you and everyone around you have will only reflect the energy that is absorbed and emitted in that community.

As Howard said, “I feel that if we are able to eliminate the act of making assumptions based on aspects of a person such as race, gender, religion, we can all live in a much happier world.”