Why Stereotypes Are Harmful

December 8, 2017



As a leading provider of therapeutic and education services, Momentous Institute focuses on building and repairing social-emotional health — developing kids who become self-regulated, good communicators, problem-solvers, empathetic, grateful, gritty and optimistic.

Stereotypes are the idea that everyone within a certain group shares the same characteristics. We can all think of stereotypes we’ve heard about different races, cultures, or genders. Stereotypes don’t just appear out of nowhere – they are based on ideas and experiences with certain groups and then extended to apply to an entire group. The problem is that people don’t function solely as members of a group. We know this to be true about ourselves and our close friends. Most of us fit into different categories and have a variety of interests. We might like watching sports but be non-athletic. We might like rock and roll as well as classical music. But when we think about other people, particularly people who are a different race from us, we often have a harder time understanding that complexity. So we put people into categories and thus – stereotypes are formed.

Many stereotypes are negative, such as assuming that certain people are lazy, criminal or poor. Some are seemingly positive, such as assuming that people are athletic, religious or musically inclined. Others are just neutral such as assuming that people eat certain foods or share similar hobbies. But all of them are harmful.

Here’s the reality about stereotypes: they contribute to a dysfunctional class system.

According to Dr. Monnica Williams, both negative and seemingly positive stereotypes continue to keep people of color in a disadvantaged status. How can this be?

Read more…