By Jerry Jones, NEIPJC Blogger
Today, I will be dissecting the black stereotypes that black people currently face. The black body in contemporary America is one that is tarnished. A black body is merely a chattel body, one that is scarred from the treacherous history it has endured. Police brutality runs rampant amongst a population that is already marginalized. It seems that everything in the system is meant to oppress black individuals.
So what are the current stereotypes that exist surrounding black individuals? The stereotypes can vary widely but I think the most common one is the black body being associated with violence. Combined with this violent stereotype is the belief that black individuals are often not intelligent, that they are stupid.
My ethnicity is Black, Latino, and White. As a child, I grew up under the supervision of my father in a single-parent household. My father, Michael Jones, was half-black and half-white. Michael Jones is a staunch old man, who has the philosophy of his way or the highway. As I grew up my father would tell me about my grandpa who I was named after, Jerry. Jerry, in my father’s eyes, was the status quo, old black man. My grandpa Jerry was angry, violent, and an alcoholic, who had a better car than his house. Jerry, in Mike’s words, embodied every stereotype that had been placed on black people.
I grew up on the southeast side of Des Moines. For high school, I attended East High School. East High School is one of the few schools in Iowa with a larger minority population than white. Despite being born and raised in Iowa, Decorah is vastly different from the Des Moines I grew up in. In fact, I experienced a culture shock in the very state I was born in, when I arrived in Decorah for college. Decorah is very white. I think it is vital to remember this when seeing black individuals in Decorah. Black individuals are oftentimes experiencing the same culture shock I did. They are in a different place.
So here is the reality, these stereotypes are obviously fictitious. Stereotypes are a flawed concept. Generalization is not a valid concept because humans are all individuals that do not adhere to a certain attitude because of the color of their skin. Yet, the fact that stereotypes do exist displays a flaw in humanity. Humans categorize things to better understand the world around us, but they overgeneralize, which makes them inherently flawed.
In my opinion, the disconnect between the white community and the black community largely rests on the difference in culture. Human beings like to believe they are not primitive in nature but they are. This is why tension occurs between the two communities, they are different. Humans simply are not comfortable with something different from them, they are scared of the unknown. Different is not bad, but it is not normal, which makes it scary. Think of meeting any new person, it can be a little daunting right? This feeling is only amplified by a difference in culture.
Despite the constant news media displaying the negatives of contemporary black relations in America, progress is being made. Never before in American history have this number of black Americans been in positions of power. Black Americans are escaping poverty and receiving education. The relations between Black Americans and all other Americans are improving. Interracial marriage is at an all-time high. No longer is black and white taboo, it is becoming a new normal. The future is one where all races coexist in peace, where stereotypes no longer tarnish the relationships between individuals. Ignorance is what breeds stereotypes, the way to combat it is with education and experience. Step outside your bubble. Get to know new individuals. Everyone has a story worth knowing, no matter the color of their skin.
Tip: Talk to your kids about race. Racism is real. Racism is present. Decorah is a bubble that does not possess a lot of diversity. The reason why racism continues to persist is because of misinformation. If kids are able to learn about issues surrounding race and equity early it acts to counter misinformation. These discussions can be considered sensitive but they are vital to breaking the cycle of discrimination.
Meet the Blogger: Jerry Jones is currently a senior at Luther College. Jerry is triple majoring in English, Philosophy, and Political Science, alongside a History minor. Despite being a first-generation minority, Jerry has continued to overcome obstacles that have propelled his success in education. Jerry’s hobbies include bodybuilding, non-fiction reading, & being a podcast junkie. At Luther, Jerry was a member of the football team which taught him some of the most influential life lessons. The one Jerry admires the most is the fortitude that the sport instilled into him. After Jerry’s time at Luther, he will pursue Law School. Jerry plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School to pursue Corporate Law.
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