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Generalizations/Assumed Similarities 1

By RoseEyed
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Part of my senior capstone project. I'm making a comic that tries to explain (or at least get people to think about) White Privilege and address common misconceptions about race. Wish me luck. And if you need any clarification or have any suggestions let me know! I'd love to hear if you have any stories or suggestions you'd like to share!

This one centers on Generalizations/Assumed Similarities. Description as follows:

“I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion” (22) (White Privilege, Peggy McIntosh)

This is something I find myself guilty of as well. We have a tendency to lump the interests, cultures, and languages of minorities who “look alike” together in a way we don’t for our majority culture. For instance, I often found myself wondering why the Black Africans and Black Americans weren’t “friends”. Or assumed a person speaking Spanish must be Mexican (though they weren’t), thought all Hispanics speak the same kind of Spanish and have the same traditions. I didn’t even realize I did this until it was pointed out to me. If I can be that unaware despite my own diverse upbringing and appreciation for world cultures, I can imagine others with less similar backgrounds can be too. It is a tendency that can have a minimizing effect on a minority, communicating “you all look/act the same to me” or that someone isn’t interested in getting to know them or their culture as an individual because all they can see is “Asian” when they look at them instead of the specifics that are unique to their culture (Chinese/Japanese) or the person as an individual (Stanley). 

This is especially the case, when we don’t tend to make these same cultural generalizations for the majority culture or Europeans. I never went up to a White person and asked if they spoke French as I’ve seen many do to Hispanics. Never wondered why the European exchange students weren’t “friends” with all the other White people. And we can all tell that someone from Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, and America are speaking very different forms of English as a result of their different cultural influences, despite a shared lineage. How about we try to do the same for minorities as well? It doesn’t mean that we need to become experts on world cultures but simply be wary of how we group people together. We just need to acknowledge that, though these people may be from the same race or continent, it doesn’t mean that their languages, dialects, and customs will be exactly the same. This can extend to cultural stereotypes (all Hispanics speak Spanish, all Blacks like Rap music, etc.) as well. That seems easy enough to do doesn’t it?

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