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Ethnic stereotype

An ethnic stereotype may be either (A) an overly-simplified representation of the typical characteristics of a members of an ethnic group, or (B) a falsehood that has been repeated so many times that is accepted by many people as generally true. The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings.

Some stereotypes, based on unbiased observations of actual behavior, can be accurate and useful.

  • Japanese people and other Asians are liable to bow when meeting others
  • Jewish people in America tend to like lox and bagels. (Israeli and middle-eastern Jews, contrary to popular belief, don't have much of an affinity for them.)
  • Arabs don't respect personal space. Arabs and other peoples from the middle-east, have a different conception of "personal space" than Westerners. They often move in close and speak nearly in someone's face. This is often considered offensive among most Westerners, but in the middle-east it actually denotes conversational intimacy and respect. (See Israelis for an example of this same social attutidue among non-Arabs.)

Often, however, stereotypes are inaccurate to the point of insult.

  • Arabs are terrorists.
  • Poles are stupid.
  • Frenchman are rude and obnoxious.
  • Englishman are stoic and have bad teeth.
  • Italians are prone to criminal behavior.
  • African Americans are only concerned with "loose shoes, good sex and a warm place to go to the bathroom."
  • Irish are drunkards and brawlers.
  • Jews are greedy.
  • White American southerners are ignorant and prejudiced.
  • Mexicans are lazy.

See: racism



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