Stereotyping harms community

by Remi Omodara

Look around and there’s a sea of faces. Some of them are round, some are long, some have big eyes, some have wide noses, some have small lips, some are smiley, some frown and some look like they could use a few more hours of sleep.

The point is that they are all different. That fact alone is what makes Whitworth University a diverse campus.

However, when you move past the broad spectrum of just diversity, there are many layers. One of those layers is racial and ethnic diversity. Yes, there are various races and ethnic groups on campus but Caucasian is predominant. Whitworth definitely does a good job of taking into account that we are all from different walks of life and we all have different backgrounds but walking in the shoes of a minority student isn’t always easy.

First and foremost, once someone realizes that you are of a race other than white, they automatically label you as different. For example, I was told by one of my friends that I was one of the first black people that she had ever met in her life. I was then asked an outrageous number of questions regarding how black people respond in certain situations, questions about African-American hair, food, etc.

I think it is fine to genuinely want to know, but don’t assume that I know just because of my skin color. Yes, we are different but aren’t we still all the same? It has been said over and over that all people are the same. We bleed the same bright red blood, we feel pain from within and we have appetites for various earthly things. Therefore, even though our skin tones are different shades, we are all still the same; we are human.

It’s almost as if assumptions, based on racial stereotypes, are made about you before you even formally meet someone. Why can’t people just be more open-minded? Why can’t you look at me, a young black woman, and not formulate any opinions about me until I give you a reason to? People base the way they think off of what they have heard about a particular race.

Just because I’m black doesn’t mean I am obsessed with chicken, watermelon or grape Kool- Aid. Being black doesn’t make you loud, stuck up or crazy. I feel like, as a minority, one has to go above and beyond to disprove expectations.

When I want to chew someone out in self-defence I think twice, in fear that I will be labelled “just another typical black girl.” People expect individuals of Asian descent to have rice with every meal. It is expected that the black people will gravitate toward anything fried and that Hawaiians will have a hard time without Spam in their diet. Why do we have to stick to the assumptions that have been ingrained in our heads from parents, media, etc.?

Maybe the vegetarian black person is actually quiet and likes to eat salad. Maybe the Asian person is looking at the pizza and maybe the Hawaiian never even liked spam before they came to Whitworth. Just because culture tells us one thing doesn’t give us a right to formulate assumptions about people before we even have a conversation with them. It is unfair for someone to already make up their mind about someone else before they even give the person a chance.

I have been blessed by many relationships that I have made at Whitworth. Whether it be with black, brown or white people, I have been blessed. However, sometimes I wonder if the  people that I have not gotten a chance to meet yet have already made up their minds about me. Some

times I wonder if they have already made the decision that I must be another rude, obnoxious black girl, making the chance of any potential friendship disappear.

I wonder if people forgot about all prior assumptions and waited to have a conversation with someone before they made opinions about them, if there would be more diverse relationships built. I hope that Whitworth can become a place where everyone is accepted and loved despite where they have come from or what color their skin is.

I want to reach out to more people who are completely unlike me. Whether that be in regards to the color of their skin, their beliefs about faith or even their major. I would encourage everyone to reach out to people different from them because it creates open-mindedness and a sense of togetherness.

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