Stereotypes are categorical associations or perceptions that people have about members of a specific social group. Stereotypes constitute a person’s set of expectations about a social group’s characteristics, including traits, behaviors, and roles(International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2008). Although cognitive in form, stereotypes are interlocked with affect and behavior and are directly related to prejudice and discrimination.
Fox Latino reported on a recent study that details the “robust” impact that stereotypes about Hispanic immigrant have on the integration and lives of those immigrants in the United States. After interviewing 2,150 registered voters in Ohio, the authors concluded that the way in which U.S. citizens view Latino immigrants is strongly related to their beliefs about the possible negative impact of immigration.
The study entitled “Who ‘They’ Are Matters” reveals to a great extent the negative effects of stereotyping Latino immigrants. U.S. citizens that perceive Latinos negatively tend to hold negative attitudes about the impact of immigration on unemployment, school quality, and crime.
The researchers asked the interviewees to attribute characteristics to four groups of immigrants: Latin Americans, Asians, Europeans and Middle Easterners. Each person polled had to evaluate a group of immigrants and say whether they thought the members of that group were rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, self-sufficient or dependent on the government, ready to integrate themselves into U.S. society or not and did or did not have violent attitudes. To our surprise, the study found that these negative attitudes are strongly related to Latino immigrants and no similar correlation was found with respect to the attitudes toward immigrants coming from elsewhere.
It is very important to understand that our children and families can become victims of stereotyping and these perceptions can be accompanied with discrimination and prejudice. Unfortunately, there is scientific evidence that links stereotyping and discrimination with low self-esteem. These problems can also have a negative effect on academic performance and behavior patterns.
The Latino community in general, parents, families, and school teachers need to be alert. We need to embrace strategies that can help our young people overcome these negative situations. Some coping strategies to deal with discrimination mentioned in the literature include : developing resiliency (overcoming the odds in spite of the challenges), strong cultural/ethnic identity (pride about our cultural richness, embracing our values, keeping our families strong, etc.), and seeking social support (seek people in your social group that can help and provide resources as needed). As a community, we need to understand and address these issues; together we can find possible solutions to end stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice.
Reference to Latino Fox News article:http://latino.foxnews.com/2012/08/21/study-stereotypes-about-latinos-have-big-impact/#ixzz24EvcPg1B