You are unique. No one is like you. You are one of a kind. This is what we are told over and over again but yet we are stereotyped into different groups. Wait, what are stereotypes?
Imagine you're an asian and a stranger walks up to you and says ‘I bet you are really good at maths. Well that's a stereotype.’ We are stereotyped because some people can't accept the fact that we are all different and that everyone is born unique.
So, they try to slap labels on people and to try to fit them into convenient boxes just to make them like everyone else. But the thing is, it is impossible to be like everyone else! You were born original so don’t become a copy. Good afternoon/morning. As the majority of you know, my name is Sajiha. Today, I’m going to talk to you about (1) my personal journey with stereotypes; (2) Why stereotypes are dangerous and (3) why we have to take responsibility for the stereotypes in our society.
Let me start by telling you the ways I am stereotyped. I am a girl, a muslim, I wear a hijab and I am proud of who I am. But no matter how satisfied you are with yourself, you can always be stereotyped. When I first started wearing my hijab people were constantly asking me
“Sajiha, have you gone bald?” or “Oh have you joined Isis yet?” and the way I responded to all of these comments was to take them as joke and I would laugh. But these stereotypes were more than just a bunch of words to me. Soon I started to question myself, my religion, the way I looked. I started wanting to be like others.
People who are put down by stereotypes eventually start to believe that they are what they are told, even if it is not true. Asians are smart, hard working and over achievers. Girls are weak, flirty and moody. Muslims well, they will just blow this room up right now. Well that is somewhat true because I will blow up this room (pause) with my speech, of course.
Why do stereotypes have an enormous impact on how we feel. They make us feel marginalised. They can make us feel like we are worthless. Stereotypes can create psychological pressure too. When we stereotype we are making, assumptions and categorizing people without thinking about what the consequences are. People who are stereotyped are most likely to end up believing that label and living a life that lives up to that label.
People also often blame the media for stereotypes. “It's all the media’s fault for showing asians as over achievers”, “It's all the media’s fault for showing women as weak…” “it’s all the Media’s fault for….Media! Media! Media!.” STOP! Who is the media anyway? The Media is influenced by you, by all of us. Those posts people have been putting up saying #basicwhitethings are the sorts of things that eventually create a stereotype and then at the end of the day we blame the media, thinking that we are not part of it.
We are the ones who can define society. Yet we blame society? We need to realize the effects of stereotypes on people before we say something or post something. The way we can do this is to first accept ourselves. Next time you look in the mirror say ‘I am as perfect as I can be.’ By accepting yourself we can then accept each other. So don't be afraid of who you are. We should keep stereotypes out of the picture, make the word ‘stereotype’ extinct. We are the ones who can make a change. Stop judging people before you even get to know them. Also, don’t listen to stereotypes. Don’t be afraid to be different, to be unique, to be you.
Today, we have presented our speech to groups. My group has worked together to work out where I am with my speech. The rubric above shows that I have made eye contact with my audience, I have memorised my speech and have used expression.