Imagine you're in an all black neighborhood and you see five white guys walking down the street in a pack. What about being in an all white neighborhood and seeing five black men walking together in a pack? How about the following terms: lesbian, LGBT, Muslim, cop. How about Christian, mega church, offering? Perhaps the phrases: good leader, fair, selfish and generous?
As you read all these terms and phrases, did you realize you depended on your stereotype to associate their meaning with your understanding? You pulled from your vast compendium of past experiences, conversations with others, news stories, Internet articles, movies and learning to associate meaning. That meaning likely made you adjust your facial expressions, feel emotion and perhaps even produce a level of anxiety.
Stereotypes are useful in that they help us process lots of information in a short amount of time, but they can also rob us of understanding, relationship and life if we let them become truth when they may not represent truth.
Stereotypes: use them carefully and as intended and be willing to adjust them with new information. Don't allow them to become truth on their own. Remember they are a culmination of your past, not a determination of your future.
Will you forward this to three people? Thank you.