Had a conversation about stereotypes and how I personally believe there is absolutely no foundation to them, though most people seem to think that - while they're not actually true - where there is smoke, there is fire....

To me, the 'fact' of stereotypes trains us to see things through that stereotype, so that when we encounter a rich Jew, an aggressive black person, a sly Chinese person (etc), it registers in our brain significantly and differently from the hundreds or thousands of encounters with those 'types' who don't conform to the stereotype. So our stereotypes are confirmed because we look for them - consciously or not.

But in our conversation I used the stereotype that white English people are dirty. K was offended, saying that not only is the stereotype offensive but I believe it. I said that the only reason she finds it particularly offensive is because white (English) people are unused to hearing the negative stereotypes about themselves. Everyone else encounters negative stereotypes on an almost daily basis so we are used to it. White English people - if they hear them at all - only ever hear the semi-negative ones that seem to also prove their superiority - ones about stiff upper lip and colonial power and mastery. None of the stereotypes they are used to hearing are really very negative at all. They all seem to have a positive way of looking at them.

But there is nothing positive about dirt - in fact the implication is animal and therefore inferior... and they (white people) are not used to being framed in that way. It's not that I necessarily believe it as a stereotype - it's just the only one she would hate me to believe.

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