Ways of Overcoming the Stereotypes
In the process of intercultural dialogue much information is based on observations. The perception people’s is conducted through the prism of stereotypes which are an essential element of an ordinary consciousness that accumulates a standardized collective experience and determines individual’s behavior. In fact, social stereotypes and prejudices influence people’s actions. They are the base of so-called discriminatory behavior. These biases can deal with gender, age, nation, etc. However, in the modern cultural diversified society racial stereotypes are the most urgent problem. That is why the peculiarities of the tolerant and calm response to the racial stereotype are considered to be an important issue which directs further development of the stereotyped concept in society.
One of the main sources of conveying the prejudices, racial in particular, is media as it implies information about the products required in everyday life. Its informative background appeals to the wide audience on the subconscious level. The question of stereotypes is linked to the advertisement function of creating social values. That is why advertisers are responsible for the accurate and respectful picture of the people they represent.
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Modern advertising is full of different stereotypes. The racial issue of adverts is disclosed through the fawning manner of the national minorities representation. Because of the fact that national minorities are used to be derided in jokes, there is even the opinion that advertising perpetuates several myths associated with some of them.
Media can both improve or decrease social status of the person. In general, racial commercials produce negative stereotypes about people of color or stress their difference in comparison to other people. For example, a scandal commercial of Pepsi Cola in terms of racism that pictures the African-Americans males being placed in one line with the goat and being suspected by woman for committing a crime (“Mountain Dew”). Public critic Watkins called this commercial the most offensive in the history of advertising. Gradually this ad was removed from public access as the producers admitted its racist tone. However, the existence of such commercials proves the existence of racist issue in the current media. It is obvious that in this advertisement African-Americans are not only associated with the criminals, but also humiliated and ridiculed because they are put in one line with a goat. Of course, the aim was to entertain the audience rather than to offense somebody, but still an image of the color criminal influences public’s perception of the African-American people. Such irresponsible selection of actors reinforces the social prejudice against the Afro-Americans as those who tend to be a part of the criminal world.
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Commercials of this type provoke the corresponding public’s behavior. As a result, most African-Americans are deprived of the potential positive image. Regarding this problem Brent Staple wrote his article “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” in which he discusses the peculiarities of the response to the social perception of African-Americans as the representatives of criminal world. The author provides facts from the personal experience to show the problem of social prejudices that influenced him and to create a sense of inferiority that depressed him during his life. Appealing to the work of another writer Norman Podhoret “My Negro Problem – And Ours”, he tries to justify the shaped stereotypes telling that some historical facts do correspond to the criminal image of African-Americans. However, he claims that such cases have to be critically analyzed (Staple). Staple states that the negative attitude has to be tolerated by the offended side calmly and without anger. He also argues that it is better to understand the reason of such treatment. In fact, one can possibly state that it is a conformist approach as it implies the oppression of personal values and feelings in order to satisfy one’s prejudices. However, such attitude requires more inner strength and confidence than a simple aggressive response. The historical background provides the facts when a political leader Martin-Luther King Jr. who fought for the rights of African-Americans used non-violent pacifist approach and reached more results in opposite to Malcolm X. Staple claims that if the person behaves like a well-educated individual and whistles Beethoven’s melodies, nobody will ever assume that this person is a criminal. His main idea is that if someone evidently responses to the racial behavior, then he/she rather maintains it than refutes.
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However, it is hard to stay calm when someone considers the other person to be a burglar only on the base of the prejudices. The racial attitude can be observed not only in terms of the misperception of African-Americans by the unfamiliar strangers. Stereotyped behavior can be expressed also by offensive jokes or other actions conducted by someone from work or close environment. Discriminated people who lack education and tolerance can be insulted by racist behavior of other individuals and start to feel unconfident and inferior.
Different people response to biases against them in various ways: some compensate their sense of awkwardness by aggressive respond, while others just ignore the offensive remarks. However, both variants convey the particular further attitude towards the issue. In addition, racist remarks can be maintained by those who observe the struggle and because of the unwillingness to get the problems do not protect the offended. That is why the examination of the most appropriate ways of responding to the racial stereotypes is important as it influences the way the conflict will develop in future. This issue regards not only racial stereotypes, but also other kinds of prejudices like gender and age.
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Adele Horin examines the main issues regarding the response to the stereotypes in the article “Courage to Build a Fairer Nation”. She discusses whether it is correct to ignore the racist remarks. The author appeals to the research conducted by Kevin Dann, professor of the University of Western Sydney, that examines the peculiarities of positive and silent response to offensive racist remarks in terms of the victims and observers of the situation (Horin).