Defining the Stereotypes

Once upon a time I was out with my boyfriend and somehow he started talking to this man. (My boyfriend talks to everyone.) With one rough glance, I thought the man was my boyfriend’s cousin because he has the same hairstyle. But with a second glance, I saw the man was far healthier looking. He was also far more attractive than the cousin and a great number of people in this world. He had this great thick, curly, dark hair. He had exquisite bone structure. His skin had a lovely complexion and color. He was tall and thin, in the way that is very en vogue in this country.

At a certain point, I heard him speak. And at a later point, I overheard someone else commenting on his ethnicity. He said to him, “I would have thought you were Spanish or something.” And I said, “Until you hear him speak.”

The man was clearly Pakistani or Indian by his speech. His English was grammatically correct and non-colloquial. And it contained the lilt that only a Pakistani or Indian can have. I don’t even know how to explain it, but it’s a sort of questioning lift of the tone at the end of every phrase, not just every sentence. There’s also a sort of full stop at the end of certain words. I can’t explain it! I had barely spoken to the man, but based solely on his speech, I had decided that it was the thing that made him non-European and non-Arab.

I’m terrible at determining ethnicity. But I am becoming far better at sorting out my stereotypes the longer I’m out here in this multi-national city. Unfortunately, I’m also attaching some negative opinions to the people I stereotype. Lebanese, I like. Spanish, I like. Pakistaini… meh. No matter how gorgeous.

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5 Responses to Defining the Stereotypes

  1. Amanda says:

    I’m not gonna lie, I totally have prejudice against stereotypes too. And ethnic preferences, whether conscious or not.

  2. Liz says:

    I’m terrible at determining ethnicity as well. I think others are terrible at determing mine, even, because I apparently look Mexican. I’m Indian.

  3. callistonian says:

    I don’t think of people in terms of ethnicity, but I am highly sensitive to accents/word choice.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I’ve found that there is usually some truth to stereotypes, even though I’m well aware that they’re never true for everyone they describe. Hopefully, what you find to be a negative is someone else’s positive. For example, I don’t like macho men, but some women do.

    And manner of speech seems to be an easy way to determine ethnicity. Whenever I speak Chinese to someone I haven’t spoken in Chinese to before, the first question he/she asks me is “Are you Taiwanese?”. (My parents are. I just have never lived there at all.)

  5. sarahn says:

    Oh Lebanese are feared and disliked in many parts of Australia which is a real shame.

    I liked being ‘confused’ when I spoke my non native language, as something other than an english speaker, weird huh!

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