On Stereotyping…Let’s Take It A Step Further.

In my recent piece, On Stereotyping…am I a bad person?, many of you were very supportive of my hyperawareness and unfounded fear. For that, I am thankful. The feedback I received basically excused my behavior and attributed it to the society that we now live in. One person thoughtfully pointed out that gun control might be the answer when it comes to alleviating some of the unfounded fear that I had when I saw the white man with three bags in the hotel elevator.

Many of my supporters were African-American. As a result, I want to take our conversation a step further. Why do some of us, African-Americans, get defensive or angry when white people stereotype us? Are all white people that stereotype bad? Do years of oppression give us, African-Americans, a right to stereotype?

If we are not willing to have conversations how can we ever gain an understanding? Let’s talk.

Much love,

Tonza

If you haven’t read On Stereotyping…am I a bad person? all you have to do is click on the link above or right here to read it.

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southern woman, southern mom, and southern lawyer!

8 thoughts on “On Stereotyping…Let’s Take It A Step Further.

  1. Ok, you knew I was going to comment. Being a “white” person, I understand what your saying but, it’s a two way sword. A good example, being where I work in constantly meeting new people. Obviously living in Bertie county the majority of the people I see are “African-American” . What’s interesting is when I say hello or have a good day I often get this look like is he talking to me? They appeared surprised. Most of the time they respond back. I try my best to level the playing field and treat EVERYONE equal, if they will let me. I wish I could snap my finger and stop this stereo typing and obviously I can’t, but I do try one person at a time.

    1. I absolutely was expecting you to chime in on the conversation! Thank you. Have you ever stereotyped? If so, why?

      1. Good question. I think we all do at some point or another. As far as the “African-American” and “white” thing, I’d have to say no. I feel the main reason for that is my parents attitude on the subject and being from NY, we dated both colors as we were growing up.

  2. No one really has the right to stereotype but it happens regardless. We supposedly live in a god fearing society where we are raised to not judge. Shit happens regardless. I try not to stereotype because that’s not our right to judge others

  3. WOW..”hyper awareness and unfounded fear…” I’m intruiged by the Buddhist journey from a monkey state to a divine state. You clearly don’t need Buddhism. You are already both noble and divine, Attorney Ruffin. Because, you live in a nation, with no domestic war theaters. Yet, we have gun deaths that would make Kingston, Jamaica jealous. People are being shot in Waffle House, Batman movies, country concerts, nightclubs, schools, gas stations, churches, or walking down the street on FB live. And in the midst of it all, you, a female and a Mom, actually label yourself as hyper-aware, unfounded, and stereotyping. Dear God. Counselor, if we all had your reverence, and willingness to engage in self evaluation, we’d be jumping out in traffic, and feeding each other at red lights. Hell, then we could rename the U.S., Utopia! You feel me? The reality is, America is a cess pool. The Superbowl and Rock&Roll, are perfumes that mask what our existence is really like.

    “One person thoughtfully pointed out that gun control might be the answer.”

    Yeah, I saw that, and I agree, but not from that angle. You remember the basketball chasing, Mom-belt fearing kid I was in the 80’s. You know how that kid ended up surviving 20+ years in D.C.? Gun control. I learned how to control a gatillo. Perhaps one day, I may be called on to be reverent about certain things, as you are, but right now, I ain’t missin’ no sleep. So, let’s trade places (with my irreverent self). Had I been in that elevator, me and that dude would have exchanged a “How’s it goin’?”, then there would have been eye contact and uncomfortable silence, the rest of the ride. Essentially, had he been a sociopath, he would have realized that there was at least one more of his species present. As Black males, we grew up with this. As kids, we were followed around stores. As teens, women clutched their pocket books. As men, we are followed, pulled over, and shot by police. Stereotyping (profiling) is as American as Thanksgiving Thursday. It may not be a virtue, but it’s certainly a survival tool, and there is NOTHING you can do about that. You’d have to take that up with whomever you id as your diety. It’s hardwired in you, for survival. My reccomendation, is don’t lose that. Especially in your line of work. Keep your head on that swivel. Strap up. Stay alive. As far as race relations in Windsor…HA!  I remember 1 non black, non white family in the entire county when I was there. They were Latino. Everyone called the family patriarch “Poncho”. His f—— name was not Poncho! But that was Windsor’s way of stereotyping, hyper awareness, and unfounded fear. See what I mean? We were taught how to profile from jump street. Great blog

  4. Being a white “yankee” from the country-country…coming to the south, I really had no idea. I was hurt and confused when someone said that what I said was racist when I was repeating a conversation that I’d had with a black friend. She was the one that said it, but I wasn’t allowed to repeat it. The “rules” were confusing. Then I went to ECSU and the book store was selling ECSU logo-ed shirts that said it was a black thing and you wouldn’t understand. Okay you’re the one assuming that I couldn’t understand but hey…. but I didn’t fear anyone wearing one.

    I honestly think…the 20 somethings and younger if left to themselves have got this. My kids bring home folks from every color of the rainbow. There are rules and everyone is informed before hand….no cussing, no smoking, no showing off your drawers, no drinking….and yet somehow our house is a pretty popular place, because everyone is welcome. There is no tension between them unless some outside force tries to insert some. I think it falls to the “adults” not to insert our issues onto the youth.

    We’ve done away with thought provoking debates or even comedians can’t tell certain jokes … and we’ve launched directly into being deeply offended….by everything. A supervisor once asked me “wouldn’t you be offended if someone said what you had done was stupid?” I asked, “was it? If it really was, why should I be offended?” He looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind. Maybe it is the very small town mentality I have from growing up. But why should I allow what anyone may or not think about me, affect how I behave or what I believe?

    I know that anyone next to me in the store could walk by and try to swipe my wallet out of my purse if I’m not vigilant. They don’t have to be any specific color to be a criminal or dangerous. Being aware of your surroundings is not a race thing. Anyone can go for my purse in the parking lot. They are less likely if you show awareness and confidence. If you walk hunched-over eyes on the ground…you make an appealing target. If you look people in the eye when you’re walking, nod, say hi…whatever. Confidence is a strong deterrent.

    And people do have a tendency to be able to feel when someone around them is uncomfortable…which makes them uncomfortable, so you can also be adding tension to a situation where there really doesn’t need to be any at all. I think if we could all recognize when we’re having a knee-jerk reaction to something and make ourselves take a mental step back and evaluate the situation, we’d all be better off.

    1. Thank you for your very thoughtful feedback. The way that you run your household and raise your children is commendable.

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