T-shirt Tuesday – Stop Stereotyping Stereotypes, They Are Unique Too

May 22nd, 2012 | Categories: Stereotypes in General

My recent post about Jeremy Lin on The Communicated Stereotype sparked some discussion. This discussion of Asian stereotypes has included comparisons to stereotypes of blacks and other groups. It has also included questions about the extent to which any stereotype can be good or whether the communication of stereotypes is always obviously and inexcusably racist.

I’m not a fan of absolutes myself. In part this is because stereotypes themselves are absolutes and I don’t think stereotyping has done groups an awful lot of good. So, calling all stereotypes bad seems to me like a problem. It’s a knee jerk reaction that in theory sounds like the appropriate and moral thing to do, but in practice only perpetuates viewing the world in absolutes.

In response, for today’s T-shirt Tuesday I present some t-shirts that in their own unique and odd way beg to differ with the assumption that communicating a stereotype is always a bad thing to do. In contrast, these T-shirts demonstrate that sometimes communicating a stereotype forces people to think, reflect, and realize the ridiculousness of the stereotype itself.

If you are still not convinced that communicating stereotypes can be positive (sometimes), then check out two other TCS posts on the topic. In this post, my guest writer discusses how comedians, specifically Azhar Usman and Margaret Cho, advocate for marginalized groups precisely by communicating stereotypes. Also, in this post, I highlight my favorite website that I view as communicating stereotypes to challenge people’s assumptions. The website titled Black People Love Us, which is unfortunately no longer active, challenges racists to view their behavior as absurd and challenges anti-racists to be less uptight about how they express their views.

In sum these examples demonstrate that stereotypes can be communicated in ways that can pass my four standards and be positive and rewarding in their own unique and odd way. So stop stereotyping stereotypes; just like you and me, each communicated stereotype is unique too.

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