Stereotypes

Typing In Stereo

Stereotypes might not be fair, but they are around for a reason. A trait or characteristic becomes a stereotype when it shows up a lot. For the most part, I try not to assume the Asian guy coming toward me after a show wants to take my picture or the Indian cab driver’s cab is going to stink. So I’m not shocked when the Asian guy just wants a light, and the cab is odor free (As harsh as it sounds the stinky cab is one well deserved stereotype in NYC).

No one person is ever going to get to know every other person on the planet, so we take a short cut and use what we know or think we know and go from there. Your parents and their parents have a lot to do with your initial knowledge, so it depends on how they raised you. If you grew up in a household where you were instructed to crawl around the floor on Saturday mornings and never answer the door, you might later think anybody with a pamphlet is weird. If you are encouraged to sit with the awkward kid at lunch in school, you may grow up with less judgment of others.

Some people get offended when they are stereotyped. I’ve been stereotyped more than once in my 56 years, but I don’t get mad. I’m grateful for the knowledge that the offender is somebody I won’t have to worry about dealing with. If I get invited to a meeting with a network that wants me to be in their show and I walk in to Jay-Z blaring with 3 white girls on a couch with their legs spread, I walk out. If I walk in with a hoodie and a gold chicken wing chain around my neck sippin’ from a snifter of Hennessy, I have to take the gig.

I stopped giving high fives years ago. Too many white folks were approaching me with that “up high” gesture. I felt they all had packs of Newport they couldn’t wait to share with me.

If you don’t want to be stereotyped as a thug, don’t walk around late at night with a hoodie pulled up over your head tight and pants hanging down to your ankles. Certainly, don’t get mad when a lady crosses the street to avoid you.

How you carry yourself can go a long way to avoid being stereotyped. You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to people some bets are off. If you see a bearded dude in a leather outfit straddling a Harley, chances are he doesn’t play the oboe in the community orchestra.

If you have a baby daddy, are familiar with the restraining order process, or show up late for your first day on a new job, don’t be surprised if you are viewed as irresponsible.

If you are in a group of white men in suits and briefcases walking toward me, don’t be taken aback when I cross the street.

William Stephenson

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