them (you)


I did some workshops which brought some of the stereotypes that we carry around with us to attention and - though it normally works as a way of highlighting the problem with stereotypes - this time I think it back-fired and I think it served actually to reinforce them... I guess it can be hard to work out the difference between a stereotype and an observation, or a personal response - or whatever... I don't know...
but I was trying to point out the nature of stereotypes and how they limit what people do - or are seen to do or frame what people make... Black, working class, (etc) but that white middle class stereotypes, and there are some, don't have the same limitations inherent in them.

B added that a stereotype is how "black people suck their teeth" and how disgusting that is. I didn't really know how to react - to explain that it might be a sound to show a negative response - like oooh that's bad - it might be a linguistic shortcut for Caribbean (and other) cultures... but I didn't want to explain on behalf of other people, to act as some mediator or tour guide...

Another direction I could have taken but didn't was to ask why she considered the sound disgusting but I didn't want to encourage that response either. I didnt' want to go down why-are-black-people-disgusting route because I was afraid it would somehow reinforce the idea by talking about it and I wasn't sure I'd be able to contain the conversation - so I ignored it.

Very possibly the worst response.

<< | >>