Challenging Stereotypes Reflection

Laura Toussaint

Laura Toussaint’s Sociology 101 Assignment – Challenging Stereotypes Reflection.

Please note you may do this assignment as a paper OR as a PowerPoint presentation.

Guidelines: Individual Only: This reflection provides a series of exercises exploring the multiple dimensions of identities. It addresses the relationships between our desires to self-define our identities and the social constructions that label us regardless of how we define ourselves, as well as stimulates thinking about the ways we can eliminate stereotypes and discrimination.

Instructions: Your grade is based on how thoroughly you address each of the following components of this assignment outlined below and adherence to the stated requirements, such as minimum word or slide count.  Please read each part carefully, clearly label each part, and fully answer all questions embedded in each part.

Part 1: Read the transcript or watch this (captioned-option) TED talk “The Danger of a Single Story” and answer the following questions:

  1. What stereotypes (single stories) were mentioned in the video?
  2. What are the dangers of stereotypes (single stories)?
  3. What are any other important points you obtained from the talk?

Part 2: Imagine your name in the center of a large circle. Then imagine important aspects of your identity in each of several satellite circles surrounding your name — an identifier or descriptor that you feel is important in defining you. This can include anything and you can imagine as many aspects as you like. A few of the many possibilities of examples might be female, mother, father, athlete, educator, Taoist, scientist, or any descriptor with which you identify. Please note you do not have to draw a circle graphic in your response, just answer the questions below.

  1. Share a story about a time you were especially proud to identify with one of the descriptors you used above.
  2. Share a story about a time it was especially painful to be identified with one of your identifiers or descriptors.
  3. Name a stereotype associated with one of the groups with which you identify that is not consistent with who you are, then write it as a sentence that applies to you using the following template:

I am (a/an) _____________________ but I am NOT (a/an)_____________________.

(So if one of your identifiers was “Christian,” and you thought a stereotype was that all Christians are radical right Republicans, your sentence would be:

I am a Christian, but I am NOT a radical rightwing Republican.

  1. Where do stereotypes come from?
  2. How did it feel to be able to stand up and challenge your stereotype?
  3. How can we create that space for others to challenge the stereotypes about them?
  4. Citing supporting information from any of your course material such as your textbook or other resources provided such as the “Systemic Racism and Anti-racist Resources” or “Definitions and Resources-Social Identity, Intersectionality, Discrimination” file (in the “start here-important documents module), discuss the relationship between stereotypes and discrimination. Please cite the name of the file or section in the textbook in which you found this information.
  5. What are some ways we can eliminate stereotypes and discrimination on an interpersonal personal?
  6. What are some ways we can hold institutions such as government, education, and religious bodies accountable for eliminating stereotypes and institutional/structural discrimination?

Part 3: Learn at least one new thing about an aspect of your identity or background (such as culture/cultural heritage, racial or ethnic identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion/spiritual belief system, etc).  This is also a great opportunity to interview an elder in your family and ask them something you have always wanted to know about your shared identity/background, and/or ask them to share something they would like others to know about this.  If it is not possible or if it is painful for you to talk to family members or if you are exploring another aspect of your identity independent of your family, you can also obtain the information by talking with a knowledgeable person from the aspect of your identity/background that you are exploring for this assignment, or simply by looking up new information from a credible, academic source (not Wikipedia).

  1. Discuss what you found out and how you obtained this information. How did it feel to learn something new about your own identity/background?
  2. How has this particular aspect of your identity/background shaped your experience in the world, and how does it intersect with other aspects of your identity/background to shape the bigger picture of how you experience the world?

Part 4: Learn at least one new thing about an identity/background different than your own. You can obtain this information by talking with someone from a different identity/background than you and asking them to share something they would like others to know about their identity/background or simply by looking up new information from a credible, academic source (not Wikipedia). If you are focusing on a religion/spiritual belief system, you can also check out a place of worship/online service different from your own as a method of obtaining data.

  1. Discuss what you found out and how you obtained this information. How did it feel to learn something new about an identity/background other than your own?
  2. What do you think the individual and social impact would be of 1) practicing cultural humility (the ability to practice lifelong learning and critical self-reflection in order to understand one’s own identity/background including but not limited to culture and its impact on being open to and supporting the identity/background including but not limited to the culture of others) as a life-long commitment?, and 2) challenging the idea of a “single story” about ourselves and others and opening to the concept of intersectionality that provides the insight of people as multi-faceted beings with different identity/background configurations that impact how they experience the world, and that those experiences are also shaped by institutional practices and systemic discrimination?

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