By: Jeff Ullery ~Copy Editor~
The other day in one of my classes, we were discussing this idea: Stereotypes are not untrue, but rather, they are incomplete. I agree with the idea. Stereotypes are present in pretty much every facet of our lives, but they are limiting.
Since I am from St. Louis, people assume that I must be an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, and I am. Does that mean that you have now figured me out and you suddenly know all that you need to know?
People constantly toss around stereotypes and, at times, assume they are all they need to know. The guy that cut you off in traffic yesterday: A jerk, not a father racing home to his kids.
The homeless man standing out on the corner who asks you for some help: A drunk and not a person just hungry for a meal. The girl you always see sitting alone in the cafeteria: She’s antisocial and not someone who is just shy and wants someone to talk to her. Republicans? They’re just a bunch of closeminded, guncrazy white people that are trying to keep wealth with people that are already rich. Muslims? They’re desert-dwelling terrorists with weird clothes and radical tendencies. Mexicans? They’re lazy, uneducated and stealing our jobs.
To me, stereotypes are rooted in ignorance, and if there is one thing that I cannot stand, it is self-imposed ignorance.
Ignorance is not an excuse in life but an indication that it is time for you to seek out the knowledge about that topic, person or whatever it is. And let’s be real here, there is so much out there to know about, so many little intricacies to discover.
Don’t just look at the tip of the iceberg that is the stereotype or what society has taught you, but go beneath the surface and find out more.
As an English major, one of the places where I make such discoveries is in the books that I read and discuss in classes. I have learned about the modern history of Ireland through novels and plays written by its great authors and set on the Emerald Isle. I have learned of the great value that Rome put on honor and political strength by reading Cicero.
This semester, I am learning about African literature for the first time and exploring some of the things that matter to modern people who are from the continent.
With each new topic that I read about, I realize how small the perspective that I am getting is and how there are so many more things for me to understand. I can’t expect to totally understand what an author is talking about in a story or the historical situation that is at play, but that does not mean I shouldn’t try to understand as much as I can.
One of my favorite parts of college is that I get the opportunity to learn new things every day. Obviously, I learn things in my classes (and if you are not, then either you or your teacher are doing it wrong). However, just by my daily interactions with people, some of who are my best friends and others who are merely acquaintances, I can learn more valuable lessons.
For instance, at Xavier I have learned not only that people from Detroit are very passionate about their city, but also why they care so much.
Too often we allow ourselves to be shallow and assume the stereotype is all there is to a story.
We are so limited by time and our location that we can’t ever hope to experience all the good that is in the world. Ignorance should not be an excuse but cause for motivation to know more.
Go out and read a book, find an interesting blog, watch a movie you’ve never seen or turn on the news. There are at least two sides to every argument and more exciting things in the world than you can ever hope to find. Do not settle for stereotypes or plead ignorance. Go find something better.