Stereotypes are misunderstood

By Levi Suryan

A lot of work has gone into suppressing stereotyping at this school. The funny thing is that many people don’t understand that a stereotype isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The negative effects only start to show when a derogatory value is assigned to groups of people. These types of assumptions are unfounded and sloppy. When this happens at Mountlake Terrace, students tend to change their ways for fear of fitting into these stereotypes. This is a terrible environment, where people have to think twice about being who they naturally are.
The first step to defeating these effects is to understand stereotypes and where they come from. People tend to make characterizations about their environment, even without noticing. It helps them deal with all of the information coming in through their senses. The process of taking data and making justifiable assumptions from it is done with a type of math called statistics. Ms. Paine, who is a trained statistician and the AP Statistics teacher at MTHS, says that stereotyping people is so popular because “Most people find it easier to work with categories than with the variability you find in individuals.” This explains why stereotyping is so common, even while most people agree that it has negative results.
When a student reinforces a stereotype that insults a group of people, they do a little bit to hurt the cohesiveness of the entire school. Every single one of us has unique strengths and weaknesses. When someone says a thing like, “Jocks are dumb,” they are potentially making the talented athletes at the school self conscious about their abilities. Athleticism has nothing to do with intelligence, but now some of these athletes aren’t as proud as they should be, because they think that others are assuming they are dumb. In a survey conducted at Mountlake Terrace, 24 out of 34 students answered yes to this question: Have you ever let a desire to not fit into a stereotype affect your decisions? This shows how many of us are affected by this issue, and how much room for improvement we have. School is a nicer place when people embrace who they tend to be naturally; it puts us at ease, makes us more productive, and helps us grow into interesting, vibrantly unique young adults.
The students out there who find making this school a better place an attractive pursuit should help to stop the negative assumptions being made about groups defined by race, gender, sexual preference, body type, economic status, style of dress, or any other attribute. They should acknowledge that people will always tend to make assumptions about each other, but what needs to end is the fostering of stigmas over the heads certain groups, and the fear this creates.
In the words of Yoda, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”