How Stereotypes Stifile Our Humanity

“I was in Dubai.

And there’s a lot of Indians who work in Dubai.  And they don’t get paid that well.  And I got it in my head that all the Indians there must be workers.  And I forgot there’s obviously successful Indians in Dubai as well.

I was doing a show, and they said, “We’re going to send a driver to pick you up.”

So I went down to the lobby, and I saw this Indian guy.  I go, “He’s got to be my driver.”  Because he was standing there in like a cheap suit, thin mustache, staring at me.  So I went over, “Excuse me, sir, are you my driver?”  He goes, “No, sir. I own the hotel.”  I go, “I’m sorry. Then why were you staring at me?”

He goes, “I thought you were my driver.”

~Iranian-American stand up comedian, Maz Jobrani.


Can anyone else relate to that joke?

How many stereotypes cross your mind on a daily basis?  How many stereotypes are packed in your suitcase when you board the plane?

Check out this satirical map by Yanko Tsvetkov.  Does it reflect the way you think about these countries?


Stereotype map, the world according to Americans
The World According To Americans by Yanko Tsvetkov


Stereotypes  attempt to group people because a certain shared characteristics.  They don’t work because we are all individuals and different.  Contrary to popular belief, wearing glasses doesn’t make you smart.  Wearing a hijab doesn’t mean you’re repressed.

These oversimplified generalizations create unfair expectations and blind you to the truth.  They form walls that are hard to tear down and prevent connections.

The best way to learn about a culture, is to rub elbows with individuals.

Put yourself with the locals and participate in the customs.  Eat the food, wear the clothes and learn their history.  Ask questions, but observe more than you speak.  Create your own opinions based on your perspective.  Above all, remember to keep an open mind.

Stereotyping an entire group of people doesn’t give a culture the justice it deserves.

It doesn’t leave room for exploration or an explanation of why people behave or think the way they do.  Stereotypes make us lazy travelers who assume, “That’s the way they do things.”

Our differences make us unique, and fuel our desire to travel and experience new cultures.  In the quest to fully appreciate each other, we must ignore and stop creating stereotypes.

It’s mind-blowing to consider how much we would learn about each other if we would forget everything we’ve learned about each other.

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  • Great post!