The American citizens have diverse stereotypes that emanate from their inherent attributes such as gender, race, ethnicity, culture, occupation, and/or ancestral origin. McAndrew and Akande lament that in the United States, African Americans are the most stereotyped due to racial discrimination and the dark history of slavery (650).
The whites see African Americans as poor, lazy, superstitious, primitive, and criminal race. Western stereotypes depict Native Americans as fierce warriors, violent, criminals, drunkards, primitive and hunters, while European Americans stereotypes are intellectual, rich, racists, powerful, hardworking and innovative in their occupations.
Primitivism, criminals, illegal immigrants, smugglers, terrorists and actors are the major stereotypes associated with the Latino Americans. The westerners also portray Asian Americas as culture oriented, intruders, intelligent, innovative, sexually active, and hardworking.
The westerners also view Middle East Americans as Muslims, moneyed, terrorists, bombers, thieves, and murders. Gender stereotypes in the United States reflects men as tall, huge, quiet and powerful while women are tall, slim, talkative and less powerful. Given the diversity of stereotypes that the Americans hold about each racial group, how do they affect effective communication?
Stereotypes of various racial groups in the United States occur in the literature, media and comedies. The media constantly portray certain attributes and characters associated with given racial groups, thus changing the perceptions of Americans resulting into stereotypes.
In schools, literature and socialization generates more stereotypes of various races. From the stereotyped attributes, I realized that the most prominent stereotypes about certain race are the negative ones implying that stereotyping is degradation of real attributes concerning specific groups.
I discovered that stereotypes do not reflect the true and accurate attributes of a particular race or ethnic group because they are forms of criticism, which always tend to portray real attributes of the people in the most negative way possible.
In the society, people form stereotypes to criticize, abuse, or even defame others in social and political arenas. Stereotypes are common during times of social unrest, political campaigns, games and other social gathering. Since stereotypes involve defamation, abuse and criticism, they are unfair because they negatively portray true attributes of the people.
Stereotypes such as primitiveness and naivety interfere with successful communication because the person communicating sees the other as someone who does not understand the topic or the context of discussion and this degrading perspective contravenes existence of any meaningful engagement. Eventually, the communicating partners would not communicate effectively due to the stereotypes.
Moreover, since stereotypes due to racial differences tend to classify people into stereotyped groups, the most negatively stereotyped group would feel degraded and develop fears, which would significantly interfere with effective intergroup communication.
Stereotypes such as criminality, violence, and terrorism associated with particular races scare other racial group and prevent friendly interaction, which interferes with effective interracial communication.
Understanding one’s stereotypes and those associated with other racial or ethnic groups would enhance effective communication. For effective communication to occur, one should be able to indentify offending stereotyped language and character in order to avoid annoying others who perceive such stereotypes as offensive. Nurturing of positive stereotypes about certain racial or ethnic group enhances socialization and thus effective communication.
For example, identifying with cultural lifestyles of particular racial or ethnic groups promotes intercultural interaction, which ultimately improves effective communication. Stereotyping affects relationship among friends; for instance, one day my friends teased me that I looked like a Negro and went further to discusses how Negroes are presumably primitive, naive and poor.
This experience heralded the death of our relationship even though the perpetrators of the same were my very close friends. We almost fought and for the first time I hated my friends for upholding misconstrued opinions.
McAndrew, Frank, and Akande, Antoun. “African of Americans of African and European
Descent.” Journal of Social Psychology 135.5 (1995): 649–655.