- What does it say about race/racism in the U.S. that stereotypes from the 1800s and 1900s continue to shape the way African Americans are portrayed in the contemporary period?
According to the readings, it is clear that racism against African-Americans in the US cannot end unless past negative stereotypes are eliminated. Notably, racism during the 1800s and 1900s generated stereotypes and this stereotyping of African-Americans has maintained racism today. Bireda (2017) noted that although the US passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s, stereotypical thinking continued to persist in the minds of the American society. Moreover, since stereotypes are embedded into a social group’s mind and culture, they are passed on from one generation to another. As a result, most white Americans still hold the same negative stereotypes of African-Americans that their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and other ancestors believed. They grew up hearing these stereotypes from their relatives, neighbors, and the media. The repeated exposure to distorted beliefs about African-Americans has made some people in the 21st century to be racist. The portraying of African- Americans in a negative manner encourages feelings of superiority among other races, which leads to increased racism.
- Do you think it is dangerous for these stereotypes to persist as a legacy of Jim Crow? How will these stereotypes, many that were formed well over a century ago, be erased? Or, is that not something you think will happen?
As mentioned earlier, negative stereotypical thinking from Jim Crow era sustains racism against African-Americans. For that reason, one of the best ways to end racism towards African-Americans is erasing the Jim Crow stereotypes. However, eliminating stereotypes is extremely difficult. The first intervention of eradicating the stereotypes is cultural competency training in institutions. Specifically, cultural competency training aims at enhancing people’s awareness, equipping them with knowledge and skills to interact with other cultures (Taylor et al., 2019). Hence, cultural competency training in the criminal justice sector, corporations, and other institutions will assist in eradicating stereotypical thinking of African-Americans. The training would play a big role in removing racial stereotyping in advertisements, songs, social media, and television. Teaching non-black people that the Jim Crow stereotypes are not only false, but they have also contributed to racial discrimination, disparities, and racial injustices. For instance, these stereotypes have caused imprisonment and even execution and killing of thousands of innocent black people. FitzGerald et al. (2019) also recommended exposing people to counter-stereotypical exemplars to contradict stereotypes. Another way is to encourage other races to intentionally suppress their personal biases towards African-Americans.