What is a stereotype? A stereotype is a public belief about a certain social group or a type of individual, usually about how they act in their culture. Stereotypes are often confused with prejudices, since both are based on a prior assumption, and you know what they say about when you assume. Although some of these assumptions may apply to some people in a culture, it will never apply to all, making the statements untrue. Some of these you may have heard, like all Irish people are drunks and fighters and eat potatoes? The Italians are considered to be “gangsters”, loud and talk with their hands.
The newest one is that all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists. Some ethnic stereotypes have been around since before America was settled, but all these cultures have one thing in common, they are all being judged. The Irish who came over to settle in the Americas were very similar to that of the enslaved Africans. After being forced to leave their own country due to the potato famine that created starvation conditions, and British oppression, millions fled to America.
Since the British owned the Irish, as they settled they were known as “The White Negros. Upon their arrival they were regarded as happy, lazy, and stupid, with a gift for music and dance. The term the “paddy wagon” was used to refer to the name Patrick and the wagon that carted them off to jail, since they were also referred to as criminals. The biggest misconception is that all Irish are drunks. Yes, some Irish folks like to drink, but not all Irish people and other ethnic backgrounds like to drink too. People see one person of a particular culture do something un-normal to someone outside that culture, and automatically everyone of that culture falls into that category standard.
The Italians were considered to be tolerant of violence and political corruption because of their former alliance with Nazi Germany and criminal group such as the Mafia. They were all seen as “gangsters” dressed in suits taking drastic measures, such as shooting people just to make a quick buck. As generations passed Italians went from being “gangsters” to “guidos” and “guidettes”. The attitudes of modern day Italians have been changed due to popular movies like Good Fellas and TV shows like The Sopranos and The Jersey Shore.
Times have changed and we now can’t help but like them. Although in reality, not all Italian’s try to act like gangsters or guidos this is just what the public eye watches and learns. The newest group to be stereotyped, in front of our eyes are the Muslims. It first started with the bombing of the twin towers in the 1990’s, and finished with the planes crashing into the twin towers on 9/11. After the attack, Americans believed that all Muslims are crazy religious terrorists trying to destroy the United States.
Not all Muslims are terrorists; most Muslims in Afghanistan hate their dictator. Unfortunately their rulers strong military force, keeps all Muslims under a strict law system. The only similarity each ethnic group has is that they all had to “run the gauntlet” and prove themselves, and it still happen even today. The reason they had to prove themselves is so that they could all fit in with the high social standard this country upholds. You must be skinny, have the latest fashions and fit in with the newest lingo and gossip.
These prejudices will always remain around our world because Americans forever have something to comment on about another American. David Foster Wallace agrees in his article, “Tense Present”, “judging involves acceptance, meaning not some touchy-feely emotional affirmation but actual acceptance or rejection of somebody’s bid to be regarded as a peer…” (50). By people making assumptions about you, it can help people determine whether they like you or not. Also no one should take offense to these assumptions because they have been around for centuries and there simply not true.