The Scars of Racial Sterotypes

(They Cut Deeper Than You Think)

Ky'Tavia Stafford-Carreker, Reporter

Over the years, I’ve seen and witnessed discrimination of all kind. This influenced me to be exceedingly open-minded towards various religions, beliefs, races and cultures. Not only have I been open to those differences, I’ve been welcoming as well. Part of the reason why I embrace culture so much is because I’ve experienced an extensive amount of racism in my life. Simple microaggressions like, “You’re not going to get hired because of your name!”, “I didn’t expect you to be this smart!”, “You’re not like those other black girls!” and  even the constant pressure to “live against a stereotype” is abrasive in itself. Racial stereotyping isn’t just my personal experience…it happens everywhere. Tooba Naveed, a senior here at Chavez, described her personal issues, experiences, and concerns about racial stereotypes. In her case, people assume she’s Indian, without asking her racial background, because if they did they’d know she’s actually from Pakistan. Not only does she deal with cultural stereotypes, she deals with the world’s biased views on her religion. 

The instant someone mentions the word “Islam”, the first thing that comes to mind for many are the actions of religious extremists. Sadly, people automatically assume that these egregious acts are the basis of Islam and throw my religion and culture in the same sentence as terrorism. Growing up around non-Muslims with these mentalities eventually caused me to detest talking about my background.”

— Tooba Naveed

From TV to everyday life, these stereotypes are everywhere. If you’re black you’re seen as ghetto, aggressive, poor, loud, dumb, thugs or just that one obligatory black person they need to make something “diverse.” If you’re Latino you’re probably only seen as Mexican (because Mexico is the only place where people speak Spanish…it’s not like there’s 20 other countries that speak Spanish.) You’re probably going to be a maid, “cholo” or illegal immigrant with a heavy accent. Don’t worry, you’ll probably be over-sexualized in the process too! Don’t get me started on Asians, Natives, mixed people and people from the Middle East because this would turn into my thesis for college. 

Our self worth, perception and future shouldn’t be predetermined by race. Although some might not intend to hurt with these comments, others commit these verbal assaults on purpose. These “simple” actions and words have a deeper meaning than most may think. Thankfully, however, I learned to be stronger and ignore the public perception or assumption of who I’m “supposed” to be, and learned to live my life for myself.

Although, I must admit I wasn’t always confident in my own skin and culture. I struggled with hating my name and wishing that people would accept and not judge me. I felt the need to be twice as good, just to equate to everyone else. This led me down a path of fighting between self-hate and self-acceptance, and today I can say that I’ve won. It wasn’t easy, but with the love and support of my family and friends of similar backgrounds, I learned to love myself in spite of others. I learned that the only way for me to grow as a person was by embracing myself and writing my own story instead of living someone else’s narrative for black and Hispanic girls. I learned that I had to thrive freely and unapologetically while not caring who I offend because I contradict their preconceived notions. I’ve grown so much, that now I help other girls with minority backgrounds find themselves while breaking down the barriers of racism around them.

Many helped me through my storm, so the least I could do is help others that have the same issues that I had. I plan to continue my work with minority girls in college as well, because racially driven self-esteem issues happen at all ages. My ultimate goal is to have a foundation, or at least a group where other people and I help those with their confidence issues. There needs to be more groups and foundations available for people of color to feel equal and significant. However, the teaching of discrimination needs to be stopped. Just because you “learned it” doesn’t make it true. Stop the cycle of bigotry. It’s necessary for people of color to feel appreciated, loved, intelligent, beautiful and safe not discriminated, biased and assumed against. 

Have you ever felt like you've been discriminated against because of a racial or cultural stereotype?

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