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Dismissing Racial Stereotypes

Living in the American “melting pot” it is very apparent that everyone is different. Many students have said that one of the reasons they came to University of Maryland-College Park was for its diversity within the student body. It is nearly impossible to walk around campus during the week without seeing someone of a different race. A lot of people do not get to see this kind of assortment of races in their hometown, so it takes some getting used to when you come to college.
 
Being around so many different people, it is easy to see different habits people of different races may have in creating racial stereotypes. Instead of assuming things about other races, the easiest way to learn is to go straight to the source. I asked about silly racial stereotypes and found out what students want to know about other races. I found four students of different ethnicities and asked all the questions you may be curious about, but embarrassed to ask.
 
Sophomore business major Megan O’Donnell says she doesn’t know if she’s ever been stereotyped for being White and that no one has ever openly said anything to her regarding her race. I asked her about some common racial stereotypes about White people.

 
Why do white girls go outside with their hair wet?
MO: “I don’t have enough time to blow dry it or I’m just too lazy to blow dry it.”
 
Why don’t white people like to wear shoes?
MO: “I personally wear shoes all the time, I have no idea why White people don’t like to wear shoes I guess they are too free of a spirit to wear shoes. I do see a lot of White people on campus not wearing shoes but I never took too much notice of it.”
 
Why aren’t white people sensitive at all to minorities?
MO: “I feel like we just want to learn about people that aren’t like us. I have been known to touch a Black girl’s hair and ask about it and other things like that.”
 
Why do White people love taking risks?
MO: “I wasn’t aware that other races don’t like to swim with sharks and bungee jump, but I guess White people are more thrill seeking, maybe it makes us feel powerful.”
 
Why do White people kiss their dogs on the mouth?
MO: “I don’t know maybe we just love them so much, Black people don’t kiss their dogs on the mouth?”
 
O’Donnell grew up around mostly White people, but she says she has become more diverse here at Maryland by having friends of different races. She chooses not to stereotype.  “There’s always generic stereotypes,” O’Donnell said. “Not all my Asian friends are super smart, I have Hispanic friends and they aren’t loud, they’re pretty level headed people and I have Black friends and they aren’t scary and ghetto. All of my friends are just people like me that I like to hang out with regardless of their race.”
 
Freshman secondary math education major, Grace Hsu, who is Asian American, grew up in the South where she says there was some degree of ignorant racism.  She attended elementary school where everyone was either Black or White except her and her brother. She chose to come to University of Maryland because she felt the environment was much more racially balanced and comfortable than what she experienced when visiting other some other schools. She gave feedback on some Asian stereotypes.

 
Why are Asians so good at math and obsessed with martial arts?
 
GH:“I fulfill a lot of those stereotypes because I do Karate and I’m a math major.”
 
Why do people think Asians love taking pictures?
GH: “I don’t have a camera, I’d probably blame the tour groups.”
 
She currently has an internship at a predominantly African-American high school and deals with stereotypes regularly. “It’s part of who you are, but not all of who you are,” Hsu said. “I identify myself first as Christian before any particular race. It’s more how I see myself. I choose to not get offended by things that don’t have a long term affect on my life. There’s always going to be a race problem until there is a fundamental change in America.”
 
Senior criminology major, Keith Smith, is African-American and says he has felt stereotyped in the past. Him and his friend were the only Black customers in a store with Asian owners and felt like the employees were following them in the store, while the White customers were left alone. He tried to answer some of the stereotypes for Black people.

 
Why are Black people so loud in the movie theatre?
KS: “Because its funny sometimes and you can’t help yourself and got to say ‘RUN!’ and ‘OH!’ not only Black people do it…”
 
Why are Black guys so obsessed with sneakers?
KS: “Its because of the value they can potentially have. A lot of people buy sneakers just to eventually sell later on especially if they’re a collectors edition.”
 
Why do Black men trick out cars?
KS: “If you have the nice shiny toys [then] you’ll get the nice looking women. That’s a principle that’s instilled in boys since birth and cars are most guys’ prized possessions.”
 
Why do Black girls wear weaves?
KS: “Some times they need it to make their hair more full. There are some bald girls out there who want to have hair that day. I feel like not too many other races do that but there’s an industry for it so why not use it?”
 
Why do Black people love Fried chicken?
KS: “It has a distinct taste that all African Americans like because it’s fried.”
 
Smith believes that Black people can break these stereotypes by being aware of surrounding and not acting ignorant.
 
Senior criminal justice major, Emily Cruikshank has felt stereotyped as a minority because people have doubted the fact that she is Latina because of her light skin. I asked her about stereotypes regarding the Latino community.

 
Why do Latinos have big families?
EC: “A lot of Hispanics are stereotypically Catholic and a lot of Catholics have big families.”
 
Why do Hispanic women wear tight clothes?
EC: “It really just depends on the day for me, I wear what ever is in my closet and it’s not all tight. They think we are just out there to be promiscuous.”
 
Why do Latino men cut grass?
EC: “A lot of Latinos came over here to find work, they found that maintenance was something they could have a field. You’re not going to reject a job.”
 
 “We don’t all have babies at 16, that’s a really annoying stereotype,” Cruikshank added. “A lot people see it around this area and assume all Latinas are that way.”
 
In 2009, Tyra Banks did a show called, Race in Your Face, where she had celebrities, Mike Epps, Jackie Guerra, Michelle Collins, and Dat Phan all answer questions about their race. On the show, they concluded that in order to dispel these silly stereotypes, we need to branch out and get to know other races. I believe we can always learn more about someone who is different.  

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