W.E.B Du Bois thought in radical terms about why people are racist and how we can alleviate the problem of racism. With that, he believed that race created a very clear class boundary that was almost inescapable because it is impossible to change the color of your skin. Today, it is hard to say that this is true when we have an African American man as President, Eminem (a white man) is one of the best rappers around, and there are many Asian people working in restaurants instead of pursuing a career as a doctor. But why exactly do we set certain expectations for certain races?
Our culture relies heavily on observations such that our view are shaped around them. It is important to realize that there are stereotypes against EVERY ethnicity – white people are racist, Asians are smart, African Americans like to eat watermelon, Hispanics are all (illegal) Mexicans, and the list continues. Americans tend to generalize everything, this becomes a problem when one group cries racism from another as is very common. As a white female I have been targeted just because of that – I have been called everything from a snob, racist (because of my blonde hair and blue eyes I’m linked to Hitler somehow?), and rhythmless (despite taking dance for 10+ years). But if I were to say these comments were racist to the person who said them, they would tell me its true.
We set expectations based on things we have seen a very select group of people do. Being exposed to many illegal Mexican immigrants in both media and on Main Street, we assume that people are Mexican if they are Spanish because we have seen it. It is so hard to wrap your mind around things that you haven’t seen. I grew up hearing so many things about certain groups of people, blindly believing it because my mother told me them, and going out in the world by myself to discover that these stereotypes aren’t all true. Yes there may be some validity in them, but most of the time if we hear it from someone who we place in an authority position (parents, professors, etc) then we believe it blindly until experiencing it for ourselves.