Stereotyping Does Not Pay Off, Literally

Stereotyping entails simplifying: you get rid of all the differences that make us unique just so you can pin a label of race, disability, sexual orientation, etc, often without bothering to ask or listen to those labeled whether they agree with your rationale or not.  And precisely because stereotyping ignores differences, it does not pay off, literally, as research shows.

In NPR’s report, “Minorities at the Movies fill Seats, But Not Screens,” Karen Grigsby Bates explains how despite the fact that racial minorities spend more money on movies and entertainment, they are not playing leading roles in many Hollywood movies. The oversimplification of the Latino or black audiences means that various segments of these minorities are being ignored. For instance, the Latino population, while speaking Spanish, comes from countries as diverse as Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Cuba, etc. Not only their cultural background varies, but also their socio-economic status, religious beliefs, education, to name just a few basic differences.

I do not care very much about the profits or loses of the entertainment industry, but I do think that many individuals from diverse fields that cater to a wide audience, such as marketers, sales reps, people who work in the tourist industry, etc, may view this research as a useful lesson. If larger profit margins would convince them to rid themselves of stereotypes, our society would still be better off in the end. Perverse as it sounds then, their desire to get richer would be a good thing; it would pay off!



Karo Caran, the Rainbow Poetess, is a poet and a non/fiction writer. Her novel, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings" focuses on the censorship of art and gay relationships in the postwar, communist Poland. Her poetry-based memoir, "Life in a Footnotes" will be published this summer.
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