Racial Stereotypes: Should Race Dictate Behavior?

Racial Stereotypes: Should Race Dictate Behavior?

Walking through the North Point hallways, the diversity is immediately apparent. Many students of different skin tones, cultures, and backgrounds intermingle and chat casually. A girl who is white is talking to a couple of black students on her way to class. In the distance, a black girl comments to her friend “Why is she trying to act Black?”

Although racial segregation and the like have not been viewed as a major problem for decades now, underlying tones of racial stereotypes can still be found beneath the surface. Although usually said jokingly or nonchalantly, the idea of “acting” like a certain race, suggests one should act a certain way in order to better fit in among their race.

A black student that does not use excessive slang or does not collect Jordans is not viewed as “acting black.” A white student who likes hip-hop music, or has more African-American friends is not seen as “acting white.”

“I truly don’t think a person’s race should dictate how they act because everyone nowadays expects a person to be a certain way or act a certain way, and even look a certain way,” commented Devin Brown (’15), who has also noticed the trend. “People don’t have to be in the new to be cool; I mean I play violin and I don’t listen to rap music much, but that shouldn’t have to be unusual.”

The question is: when did race begin dictating people’s behavior? Within today’s youth culture, an unspoken code seems to exist that people must follow certain guidelines to not be considered “unusual.” In this day and age, it is apparent that racial barriers have been broken down: A black president, political figures of various races, and interracial couples. Interestingly, we allow stereotypes and certain views to create drifts within different ethnicities, and basically destroy the progress made over the past century.

Should an Asian student be viewed as “smarter” than her black counterpart? Should a Middle Eastern man get a harder time at an airport than a white man? So, the next time a friend, whether jokingly or not, says “you’re the whitest person I know,” stop and think about the deeper meaning of the statement. Is it right to tell people how they should act based on their skin color?