Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Racial Stereotyping

When I saw this picture in Lakeshore catalogue, a place that sells educational products, I silently engaged in this string of thought:

"Yeah my Chinese friend Suzi Lee dresses like that every day and that Latino doll totally epitomizes my sister-in-law, Ruth.  Definitely, for-sure all Native Americans look just like that, and my two students from Africa totally rock that pictured wardrobe.  And all the Japanese kids I know have that exact hair style and live their every day lives wearing that kind of red flowery outfit."  

It's exasperating how print media perpetuates stereotypes.  It's particularly maddening that this page comes from an educational catalogue.  But that's beside the point.  The real issue here is racial stereotyping is wrong and it's important to talk this out - with each other, and with our kids.  When my kids saw this catalogue tonight, the first thing they said was "oooooooh" and they spent a few minutes eagerly scanning the book of novel items.

They got to the page above and I stopped them.  It took less than 10 minutes to have a brief conversation about racial stereotyping where I voiced my disapproval of it, and why it's important to critically examine what they see and hear and witness people doing in the media.   Comparing the images they saw on that page to the people they know in real life was important.   

You're right, Suzi Lee doesn't dress in that traditional gown all the time, and Auntie Ruth does not wear a traditional Mexican dress every day, either . . . And for the record, Chamorros do not wear grass skirts and coconut bras.

Just another in-the-moment opportunity to fill our personal bank account with knowledge against discrimination, racism, and stereotyping. 

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