Ebony Women for Social Change Examines Stereotypes

Photo by Pauline Park

Students gathered in the Black Student Union office on Tuesday to discuss stereotypes associated with the black community today and how people can go about trying to break "the chain" of those characterizations. The event was hosted by Ramapo’s Ebony Women for Social Change. Members of the club led an open discussion by asking questions on the topic.

The issues that were examined include different food stereotypes associated with black people, the stereotype that black people are lazy, the stereotypes of black people as uneducated, criminals, drug dealers and thugs. While the tone was meant to be serious, many in attendance chose to find humor in their responses, filling the meeting with laughter and jokes. Ideas on where these stereotypes may have started and how they could be stopped were also discussed by the crowd of students.

“I think it starts with the media,” said Shaleah Peyton, a senior at Ramapo.   

Peyton referenced recent Popeye’s commercials, describing how a woman of color is featured. Peyton feels that it is those types of commercials that are furthering this belief in the minds of people.

“I don’t think these stereotypes can be stopped, for that main reason,” Peyton said.  

The topic of black education, as well as the stereotype of black people being lazy, were the main focuses of the discussion, with most attendees taking the chance to share their thoughts. The students came to a general consensus: they agreed that there was no such thing as equal opportunity. The stereotype of black people being lazy was also debunked at the meeting, as students felt that there are lazy people of all races.

Patrick Morgan, a sophomore, spoke on factors he said encourage inequality, and even stereotyping, when it comes to education.

“I think that this inequality in the school systems is perpetuated by the government. I come from a really wealthy town, and my high school is really well funded, causing them to be one of the top schools in the state," Morgan said.

Morgan’s comment snowballed into other students saying they feel that students who attend schools that do not have much funding seem to be encouraged to settle for less.

Eventually, the question of whether or not these stereotypes are still being passed down was brought up. The labeling of blacks as uneducated, criminals, thugs or as drug dealers was discussed. Those in attendance agreed that right now, those are "socially acceptable" labels, but that is changing. According to those at the meeting, in 20 years those labels will, hopefully, not exist, and will no longer be socially acceptable, due to progress and change.