“Stereotype is a preconceived notion, especially about a group of people. Many stereotypes are racist, sexist, or homophobic” (Vocabulary.com). For instance, today, people stereotype to devalue certain groups; such as religion, beliefs, or even discriminating against certain people because of their appearance. The biggest stereotyped individuals are African-Americans, who battle stereotypes extremely often. African-Americans have been thought of to be someone they are not in media, history, and everyday life. For example, there are people who believe they see very few African-Americans particularly males as achievers. Although some stereotypes are true, most are harmful and inaccurate. These negative stereotypes have been around America for years and originated in slavery. Stereotypes played a significant role during those time as they were showing enslavement of African-Americans, portraying them as aggressive and dangerous. Stereotyping is a bad feature of numerous societies, but the habit of stereotype is too common worldwide. In this paper I will tell you a story about a time I was walking home in the streets of Chicago and how I stereotyped a man I felt was following me too close for comfort.
Growing up as a child in Titusville, Florida my parents raised me to believe that all African-Americans are dangerous people to be around and to stay away from them because they are all crooks and up to no good. This being instilled in me as I became a teenager and now as a young adult, I always did my best to avoid any encounters. For instance, if I am shopping in Walmart, Target, Winn-Dixie, etc. and am in the same aisle as an African-American male or female, I would leave right away with no hesitation. Whether I grabbed what I needed or not. The stories I heard my grandparents tell about having to go to school with African-Americans and how they would chase them from their farm every morning was terrifying. One evening as I was heading home from Hyde Park in Chicago, I noticed an African-American male about six feet two, six feet three, appear out of nowhere walking behind me. He had the appearance of a mugger, it was late and there weren’t many people around, so I was quite frightened. He was wearing bulky clothing with a hoodie, hands in his jacket pocket, I couldn’t see his face which freaked me out even more. That is what most people do when they are about to commit a crime, hoping that no one recognizes them. I glanced over to see exactly how close he was to me, clutching unto my purse with dear life. I picked up my pace walking faster trying to get to safety and away from this criminal. I didn’t know his exact intentions at that moment and I wasn’t willing to wait around to find out. I swear, for the life of me it was as if he picked up his speed as well, I glanced again, and he was right on my heels! I began to worry, I was shaking, and it felt as if my heart wanted to jump out of my chest. I was a nervous wreck, fearing that he will mug me for my purse or worse, take me in one of the alleys to rape and kill me. My destination was coming up and I glanced again to see if he was still on my trail when I noticed he was. I ran all the way to the cross street disappearing with a sigh a relief that I was able to get away unharmed. At that moment, I made a promise to myself to never walk the streets of Chicago late at night ever again.
Now do you see why I stereotyped this guy with no knowledge of who he was? I assumed based of his image that he was a criminal who was going to cause bodily harm to me. I can only imagine what was going through his head during that time, was he afraid that I would get him arrested based off an assumption, was I going to make a scene, hoping someone record it to catch him in act if indeed he was really a criminal and trying to mug me, or, probably saying to himself how dramatic I was being by running. I really felt uncomfortable in that type of situation. I have never encountered and African-American ever, I couldn’t believe it happened to me and to make matters worse to happen at night, I didn’t know what to do. Whether to act natural as if it’s nothing or to speed walk, cross the street and run like I did. Without thinking this through, I panicked and picked up my pace and eventually started running, assuming he was on my trail. This guy instilled fear in me, I did my best to avoid him, his appearance was very intimidating. African-Americans have such a bad image, people speak of them as troublemakers and I believe it is true. Society has a weak view of what appears to be dangerous and what doesn’t.
“Stereotype." Vocabulary.com. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/stereotype. Accessed 1 Oct. 2018