A stereotype refers to a fixed belief that is generalized over time, a pattern of attitudes and behavior that people recognize as belonging to the same group. Stereotypes are negative when a person makes generalizations and assumptions that are not true for each individual in the group. As a result, this can lead to prejudice, racism, inequality, and conflicts between groups. This paper will explore how I was stereotyped because of my identity and how I tackled such misconceptions.
As a Dominican, when I was 15 years old, in my sophomore year, I moved to the United States. Often because of my physical characteristics and skin color, such as my hair’s texture, I was considered black. Notably, the U.S. focuses on a two-tier distinction between whites and non-whites based on the hypodescent concept (Hollinger, 2003). On the other hand, in the Dominican Republic, the Dominicans perceive themselves as white and Hispanic (Spencer, 2004). Consequently, I was racially discriminated against during my college education due to my being stereotyped as being Black.
Stereotyping makes people feel lonely and occasionally depressed. When I joined the United States Air Force at the age of 23 years, I was considered unable to perform under pressure because I was a Dominican, despite continuously proving that I could perform exemplarily under pressure. To discourage such stereotyping, I would volunteer to go to challenging missions, which required a lot of concentration and composure.
Stereotypes often bring into question the conceptions of racial, cultural, and national identities of immigrants. Rather than relying on generalizing a whole category of people, it is important to pay more attention to each person’s uniqueness.
Hollinger, D. A. (2003). Amalgamation and hypodescent: The question of ethnoracial mixture in the history of the United States. The American Historical Review, 108(5), 1363-1390. https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/108.5.1363
Spencer, R. (2004). Assessing multiracial identity theory and politics: the challenge of hypodescent. Ethnicities, 4(3), 357-379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468796804045239