Today I had a run-in with stereotyping and prejudice and it has left me a little numb and raw. The even more ironic thing is that it was something I experienced in my dealings with reading other people’s WordPress blogs. I have been following someone (I thoroughly enjoy reading their posts) for some time now, but I found out they had a deeply negative perspective on my culture. I’m not going to go into specifics because this post is not to call them out or make them defensive. This post is entirely based on my reaction to them and my experience.
I’m not going to lie, I have been blessed to be a Caucasian American woman in the middle-class. I don’t get a whole lot of hate or prejudice on a daily basis. In this, I know I am fortunate. I have taken classes based on studying this type of thing, and I always knew that my personal experience journals with prejudice or anything of that sort would be less than some of my classmates (because I encounter these things less frequently than some).
So, naturally, when I read the post it just felt like an immediate stab in the gut. Honestly, I had never heard the culture of where I lived displayed in such dislike. But, that really wasn’t what got me. I immediately thought, “If this person knew I was born and raised in this area, would they think the same of me?”
That thought was pretty devastating. My culture is an integral part of who I am, and I am proud of it. Yes, it has many negative stereotypes that I disagree with, but that doesn’t even begin to represent the vast majority of us- just a select few that get the negative attention. I don’t want people to really believe in such stereotypes about something I hold dear. This is my home.
At the end of the day, it just made my heart heavy, and I began to judge myself needlessly. I wanted to respond, to ammiacably show my regret of their negative views, but I refrained. I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that everyone has their own perspective, and we all think our perspective is right. And technically, everyone is right in their own way.
Therefore, I just find myself sitting here sulking. I’d love to give that person a new perspective, a more positive experience with my culture, but the only thing I can do is not feed the detrimental stereotypes. And, ironically, I write this post as my government is headlining the world with “Shut-down” nonsense, which doesn’t make me all that proud today of my heritage to begin with. I don’t know if its just a typical trait of someone my age, but I am feeling pretty helpless at making a difference today, making a change. But, tomorrow is a new day.
The only advice I found today was by Eckhart Tolle:
“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
Best of all wishes and I hope you find a way to live outside your labels set by others, they do not define you. And perhaps, not to judge a whole so harshly based on the half.