Today's Invisible Stereotypes

When we hear middle aged people make racist remarks, we quickly conclude that between their generation and ours exist a sharp division; they’re racist and we’re not. We weakly pretend to explain why with something like, “They grew up in a different time.”

I argue that this is not the case at all. Stereotyping is gradually becoming less and less socially acceptable. Being at the cusp of this, we’re not really aware of how often we all stereotype.

I suspect our children and grandchildren will be appalled by numerous things we say without thought. It may no longer be acceptable to point out that foreign food smells or accentuate the difference in physical features between races in drawings or cartoons. Gender-specific language such as stewardess may be intensely frowned upon. Stereotyping subcultures may also become unacceptable. You may go to a restaurant with your children some day and hear, “Dad, don’t say ‘nerds’ or ‘goths’ in public! You’re embarrassing me!”

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