Twenty-two percent. That’s how many students at Mason High School have the label minority tacked onto their name.
According to the Public School Review out of the 3,246 students at MHS, only about 714 of them walk through the hallways and rarely see someone who looks like them–racially speaking of course. To put this into perspective, the minorities at Mason High School don’t even make up one graduating class. Along with the challenge of being an outsider, comes the challenge of changing preconceived ideas about you and your race.
Hispanics, African Americans (Blacks), Arab Americans, and Muslims are a few targeted groups in a society where stereotypes dictate the thoughts and feelings towards a particular ethnic group. These groups have often had the misfortune of being associated with the titles: illegal immigrant, thug, and terrorist, and social media has done nothing but fuel the flame.
The problem is that I’m guessing at least one person reading those tweets laughed, smiled, or thought so true! Social media allows users to post any comment that pops into their heads regardless of how derogatory. While some may find these stereotypes humorous or playful, racial attacks effect minority groups outside of the Twitter app on their phones.
Senior and Board Member of Mason African American Students for Change, Ayianna Alatishe, recognizes there are stereotypes she’s faced with as an African American.
“As a Black woman [common stereotypes I’m affected by are] I’m loud and I’m boisterous” Alatishe said. “In classes I’ll be seen as not as smart as my white counterparts.”
These stereotypes as expressed by Alatishe, tend to make their way onto the big screens, as Hollywood tends to stick with the portrayal of stereotypical minority characters.
Asians in television shows and movies often have strong accents, and are sometimes shown speaking such poor English, that subtitles are needed to understand them.
Movies and TV shows written with stereotypes and prejudice in them, cause unfair conclusions to be drawn about particular groups. However in the media outside of TV shows and films, the same conclusions are being made based on the actions of a small percentage of a race.
Arabs and Muslims are often too quickly labeled terrorists. With old and new world crises, the assumption is sometimes made that all Muslims act in a threatening and suspicious manner.
The Huffington Post comments on the portrayal of Arab Americans and Muslims in the media:
Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans receive information about Muslims and Islam primarily from the media. As Jack Shaheen, a leading writer on Arab and Muslim media stereotypes has documented, more than 200 movies have portrayed Arabs and Muslims in prejudicial scenes, often when the plot has nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims since 9/11. When Hollywood blatantly excludes multi-dimensional portrayals of Muslims, it can lead to harmful stereotypes in the real world.
Biased depictions of ethnic groups cast a negative light on minority races, and impact students such as Alatishe and other minorities at MHS.
Almas Malik, a freshman at MHS, has dealt with being labeled an aggressor as an affect of stereotypes towards Muslims, but in reality, seeing terrorizing attacks around the world hurts her just as much as it does any other American.
“There’s a lot I want people to know, but the biggest thing is that it’s hard for us to turn on a news channel and hear about all the evil that is going on around the world.” Malik said.
The problem with stereotypes is, they cause people to judge a group before they get to know them. Someone may see Alatishe and her dark skin and assume she’s unintelligent, when she could possibly be a straight ‘A’ student. Someone may see Malik and assume she plans to harm them, when she could possibly be an advocate for peace.
This goes out to everyone, not everything you see on the big screen or in your Twitter feed is fact. Whether you’re 1 in 2,532 or a part of the small 22%, it’s time to ditch the stereotypes and start to get to know the kid in your science class who doesn’t have the same skin tone as you.