Outgrowing Stereotypes

by - September 16, 2010

I've lived in the South my entire life. 23 years and 10 months, to be exact.

In that time I've grown accustomed to the misconceptions people have about this part of the country. That doesn't mean I agree with or like the stereotypes I'm so often judged by.

All my life I've had to listen to people belittle our education systems, make fun of our accents and question the validity of our morals. And the worst part is that the majority of people making those assumptions have never actually been here.

Last night, one of our newest reporters made a comment about the number of single mothers he's seen here. [Keep in mind he's only been living here a few months.] That prompted a discussion about how antiquated the South is in terms of values, which somehow led to a conversation about how Southerners think they have to or need to get married at an early age. That, in turn, led to discussion about divorce rates and how they must be higher in the South because of our rush to get married.

Of course this prompted a rather heated discussion in the newsroom, the specifics of which aren't important. However, it should be noted that he was definitely outnumbered.

Now I can't speak for everyone who lives in the South, but I don't think I'm supppsed to get married right now and start having babies. I'm also pretty sure that when the divorce rate was calculated, it was using numbers from the entire country.

It bothers me when people make generalizations about an entire group of people based off of preconceived misconceptions. People can't all be lumped together. And it's unfair of someone to form an opinion based on stereotypes.

I think it's so sad that people would rather indulge in stereotypes than actually get to know people. And I know what people say about stereotypes having some grain of truth to them, but to be honest more often than not that's simply not true.

People are afraid of things that are different from what they know. Instead of accepting it, they ridicule and belittle what they simply don't understand. And what's truly lamentable is the utter lack of desire to even try.

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  1. It’s ironic. I was just playing the song “California Girls” in my head this morning (the David Lee Roth version). If you examine the lyrics of that hit Beach Boys song you‘ll find stereotypes galore, not to mention sexism. Popular music, movies, television shows, cable news outlets (MSNBC vs. Fox News), websites, blogs, social networking sites, friends and family all shape and often prejudice our attitudes toward the opposite sex, people who are older or younger, people who live in different regions of the country, people of other races, religious beliefs and nationalities. We’re fighting an uphill battle against those powerful entrenched forces. Change is made possible through education, transparent communication and unconditional love. As I exhorted in a previous comment, one person can indeed change the world.

    It has become obvious to me that you are part of the solution, Ashton!

  2. Eh, I've been in the South too long and I sort of agree with him. Stereotypes usually exist due to, for some reason, being true (partially or fully). Odd as it seems, all of my sisters (half/full) have kids, but none are married. Technically, I can still be first of the half/full siblings to be married first, lol.

    Oh, and about education, it exists, especially when people in this region prefer pushing religion into education versus pushing evolution completely out.

  3. @Richard: Nationwide there are more single mothers than ever. It's unfair to pinpoint one region of the country when this phenomenon affects all of them.

  4. I actually think the stereotype might be false, but there are so many people who perpetuate it. There are probably many hidden factors behind why he thinks this way, and, honestly, if you just look around the South in general, there kind of is a lot of it going on. Not that it isn't anywhere else, that's just ignorant to think, but still... I mean, quoting teen pregnancy rates- Hell, my brother goes to a school over here that has a damn NURSERY in the high school for all the babies of the student mothers.

    But anyway... that's just what I think. I actually hate how people get so mad at stereotypes. We should just live and let go.

  5. It's not so much the stereotype as the readiness of people to buy into them. It just bothers me that people base their opinions on stereotypes that may or may not be true. Sure everyone has a right to their opinion, but basing an opinion on something that's not true doesn't say much about your opinion you know?