Thanks to Charlotte Reimanis we had a Stereotype Project with an interactive poster in the Parish Hall for two months in the early spring of 2019. We gradually filled it up with stereotypes we have observed being made in the media or in person or in our own reactions to people. The project was very simple, but it had a profound effect as we have become more aware of the pervasive and sometimes subtle presence of stereotypes, and as we thought about their impact on individuals and society. Questions arose like, Why does the human brain make stereotypes? How can we change our culture’s consciousness so that we can move beyond the harmful, divisive and oppressive effects of widely held stereotypes? We saw the connection between stereotypes and the ethic of the Golden Rule and love of neighbor and compassion for the vulnerable and oppressed—if our society lived by the principles all spiritual traditions espouse there would be not stereotypes.
Below are photographs of the poster and below them is the list of stereotypes we put on the sticky-notes (with the addition of the stereotypical male/female sign hanging from the bottom).
Stereotype Post-Its From the Poster:
Geeks; Bleeding heart liberals; Jews are miserly; Girls wear pink / boys…; Betty Crocker; Asians have a thing for cameras; Teachers; White hair; Blondes; Old people are harmless; People who are homeless or receive welfare or other public support are lazy; Pro football players are dumb; People who do hard physical work are stupid; Smokers are inferior, dirty…judged like it is a choice to smoke (vs illness/ addiction); Tattoo / dyed hair; Aunt Jemimah; Church ladies; People who live in small one-story houses are poor; Women who are not conventionally attractive are less valuable; Institutional racism: it disadvantages people of color; People who suffer mental health challenges due to experiencing trauma; Muslims; The homeless stereotyped as failures, bums and losers; If you are poor, you “deserve it”; “SJW,” a right wing media term meaning “social justice warrior” with the stereotype being hysterical anti-American kooks (like Bill Coffin, Jim Antal, many of us!); Everyone, all the time, even you, even now, when you look out at others, when you look in at yourself; Blondes are dumb! Vermonters; Flannel Shirts; Gender Fluidity; Being Black; Southerners; Hispanics; Older members of our society are too often undervalued; Make America Great Again; “Hicks” used in a local school; Stereotyping is a way of coping with difference—each and every group stereotypes every other group; Everyone who is “other” is stereotyped—anyone who is “them” or “they;” People who are fat are not always jolly; Some nationalities are associated with self-destructive behaviors as in all Irish or Native American people are alcoholics; Institutional racism disadvantages people of color; Adult words are taken more seriously than young people’s; Christians are not all politically conservative fundamentalists; The chiefs Football team logo; Southern or other accents- French, all accents; The male (in pants)/female (in skirt) signs on bathrooms.