Myth and Stereotypes: Racial Profiling Wendy Horton Kaplan University A stereotype is an exaggerated belief about a group that can be positive or negative but generalizes without allowing for differences (Louisiana Voices, 1999-2003). One example of a stereotype would be racial profiling. Racial profiling is an inclusion of racial or ethnic characteristics in determining whether a person is considered more likely to commit a particular type of crime or an illegal act or to behave in a “predictable” manner (Wikipedia, 2010).
For instance, some people will hear crime stories all over the news today and automatically assume that an African American, probably male, committed the crime. These crime stories, might indeed, involve African American males, but not all crimes are committed by African Americans. A few myths are to blame for this certain stereotyping. One myth is that most crimes are committed by African Americans. Another myth would be that African Americans are preying on White Americans in our country. There could be some truth to these myths but most likely they are just over exaggerated.
For example, in 2005, 86% of White Americans who were murdered were actually murdered by other White Americans. Therefore, it was proven through statistics that African Americans were not the ones “preying” on White Americans (Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005). This is simply a stereotype about African Americans that dates back for many years. These myths and stereotypes about African Americans can date back to the days of slavery and discrimination, from the 1870’s to the 1930’s mainly.
After such a long period in slavery and being discriminated against constantly, African Americans decided to take a stand for their race. They begin fighting for their freedom and rights as individuals and as a minority group (Library of Congress, Unknown Year). During this time of standing up for themselves, African Americans became known as criminals because they fought and disobeyed “White” government. Whites began profiling African Americans as “trouble makers”. In actuality, the African Americans were just standing up for their own rights to individual freedom and liberties.
This stand was known as the Civil Rights Movement, which lasted from 1955 to 1968. African Americans came out of the Civil Rights Movement wanting to define themselves and their own culture. New styles of politics, music, clothing, folktales, hairstyles, cuisines, literature, theology and arts were all present at the end of the Civil Rights Movement. These all represented change and a turning point for African American equal rights in America. By protesting, marching, sit-ins and riots, by the 1960’s, African Americans had reached their goals and obtained their civil rights.
Immediately, this movement ushered in a new “black” political culture. With the voting rights won in 1965, African Americans now had a bigger say in politics. African Americans had some big support in protesting for their rights. Such famous names as Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were standing up for themselves and the rest of the African American population. They were spokes persons for their whole race of people. Great legends as these helped win the rights for their people. Their legacy and memories will live on and be passed down for many generations.
Therefore, in our world today, African Americans have more rights and freedom. However, the myth that African Americans are trouble makers or criminals and cannot be trusted carries on. These myths and stereotypes will carry on for many more years as history is passed on from one generation to the next. I do not believe our world will allow these myths and stereotypes to be dispelled. I do not see that this is at all possible. There are too many racist people still left in our world today. They teach it to their children and coming generations.
I believe there will always be racial profiling and myths that will never end or go away. Myths and stereotypes are what defines us and who we all are, no matter our skin color, gender or religion. They will continue to exist and define our world. In fact, each year, more myths and stereotypes are formed. Myths and stereotypes will live on. I would want myths and stereotypes to live on. These are the things that define us as individuals and groups. If it were not for these things, many of us would not know who we were truly. These things are what life is made of and will continue to be.
It keeps us defined and interested in our surroundings. It keeps us moving forward with direction. I do agree that some stereotypes and myths need to be cooled down a bit, but never non existent. We need them to live. References BookRags. (2005-2006). Civil Rights Movement. St. James encyclopedia of popular culture. http://www. bookrags. com/research/civil-rights-movement-sjpc-01/ Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2005). The living consequences. http://living. jdewperry. com/2009/02/black-americans-and-crime/ Innovations Report. 2004). Reader’s memories of crime stories influenced by racial stereotypes. http://www. innovations-report. com/html/reports/social_sciences/report-28864. html Library of Congress. (Unknown Year). Voices from the days of slavery. Slaves tell their stories. http://memory. loc. gov/ammem/collections/voices/ Louisiana Voices. (1999-2003). An educator’s guide to exploring our communities and traditions. http://www. louisianavoices. org/edu_glossary. html Wikipedia. (2010). Racial profiling. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ethnic_profiling