The paths I have chosen to pursue for my inquiry are “Why are those who feel stereotype-ed not doing anything to change it?” and “How does stereotyping affect an individuals intellectual performance?”
Let’s begin with the second question: How do stereotypes affect performance? Well Dr. Steele, a psychologist at Standford addresses this problem. He claims it is all about the environment we are in. He uses the situation of standardized testing. He chooses two stereotypes: The less intelligent kids in a room will be African American, and the women will be struggling with math in the male oriented society. Both subjects know that they are thought to be unable to complete the assignment so their self esteem goes down the toilet and they don’t do well, continuing to strengthen the stereotype. This then, as Dr. Steele puts it, creates disidentification which is where one reevaluates themselves based on how everyone else sees them. Them knowing that they are held at such low standards has a psychological affect that they can’t seem to undo. This raises the question “Who decided that these two subjects were lesser?” “Did they not foresee the outcomes?” “What does this mean for our culture and society now, next year, ten years from now?”.
Now to the first question, “Why do those who know about the stereotypes do nothing about them?” You could I answered the question above, its a mentality. But this question addresses the other sides to the stereotypes. Latino’s sell drugs, African American guys shoot up each other and white people, cops are bad. Now I don’t agree with these stereotypes. I know cops who struggle with the debate that they try to have too much power yet get in trouble when trying to defend themselves, or African Americans who are judged because other African Americans choose to revel in the stereotype so they are all affected. Many Latino’s are seen as the scraps that slide across the border to take our jobs and corrupt our society by selling drugs, when really they are here to make a better life for themselves because life in Mexico is pretty barren. If we, the U.S. had better infrastructure a lot of these stereotypes could be minimized. Besides that, if these groups of people feel they are being treated badly why not stop it? Alex Nigalos, an advocate to drop the Hispanic stereotypes, nicely states that “People will be treated how they are perceived”. A lot of people know this but they see themselves and that that was how their parents were and their parents before them, so they think “Why bother?” and the stereotypes continue and they allow it but then get mad that it is happening. This poses the questions “Where is the desire for change?” “Why do people not opt to actually do something about this?” “What is holding them back from trying to change the society they live in?”.
The stereotype argument has every player imaginable because every person is beaten back by a stereotype whether it be gender based, ethnic based, sexual orientation based, age based, anything. I think these are two problems that really need to be explored as each question really makes us think about where our society is headed.