People’s perceptions often cloud their judgments. As one lives his life, he notices the character of people and naturally tends to associate their character with a generalized group that they belong to. For example, one may have noticed that a tall man is good at basketball because he sees tall men play on professional basketball teams. He then assumes that tall men are naturally good at basketball and therefore tall men must play basketball. This generalization is untrue however because there are many tall men who are not skilled at basketball and therefore would prove his generalization incorrect.
The misperceptions that we naturally have need to be analyzed thoroughly because it is nearly impossible to accurately generalize a whole group of people. Generalizations are made about black and white people in the short story Episode in Malay Camp by Peter Abrahams, by the main character Xuma. “This is like the white people’s place” (5), said Xuma when he was referring to a place that was nice to live in.
Dr. Mini quickly corrected him, “No, Xuma, not like the white people’s place. Just a comfortable place. You are not copying the white man when you live in a place like this.
This is the sort of place a man should live in because it is good for him. Whether he is white or black does not matter. A place like this is good for him” (5). Xuma had lived his life with prejudices of what white people and black people are like, how they are different and what kind of living each one of them deserves.
Dr. Mini corrected Xuma’s misperceptions by explaining that just because you belong to a certain culture or group does not make you a certain way. Similarly to Xuma, I, too, am guilty of prejudging people based on their appearance. The most recent case in which I had incorrect perceptions of someone is when I met Ms. Rivera.
Normally, seeing someone with dyed red hair and a lot of tattoos puts a certain idea of what that person could be like in one’s head. Honestly, I had negative ideas about what this tattooed person could be like just because I have been conditioned to believe that way. Often times you see the villains in movies have tattoos and piercings and that picture becomes embedded in your mind when you look at other people who happen to enjoy tattoos and piercings. Luckily, I was pleasantly wrong about Ms. Rivera because she is nothing like what I would expect a tattooed person to be.
She proves my misperceptions of tattooed people wrong, and since then I look at people with a more open mind. During one’s childhood one is exposed to a variety of different medias. From these medias, perceptions about certain people, cultures, groups, etc. are embedded into his mind. As one grows up the perceptions embedded in his mind at early ages are used to judge people without ever meeting them. Additionally, from my experience, I have noticed that usually a large portion of certain groups and cultures tend to fit the stereotypes that they are labeled with. For example, there is a stereotype that Jewish people are cheap.
In some way this is true and in some ways it is not. I have noticed that a lot of Jewish people tend to consider purchases more before making them, and may sometimes choose not spend money on things others would. However, I am Jewish and I would consider myself less cheap than my non-Jewish friends. There are more times that I offer to pay for my friends than they do for me. This just proves that you cannot always stereotype people accurately. As a society we are conditioned to perceive specific things about various groups and cultures that may or may not be true.
These types of perceptions are often considered stereotypes. Stereotyping can be accurate sometimes but because there are times where it is inaccurate it is a good idea not to stereotype people because you never know if you could be completely wrong about the person being stereotyped. Additionally, the mere idea of the possibility of not meeting your new best friend because you stereotyped them incorrectly is enough to make stereotyping not worth it. It is always best to judge people based on their personal character when you meet them rather than judging based on the generalities embedded in your mind.
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