Label Jars Not People
By Samra Amir

December 2006
Imagine yourself as an African-Canadian male walking into a store, as the cashier gives you an oddly cold look. Browsing through the sweaters on the table, you feel someone’s presence behind you; it’s the same cashier you saw on your way in. He follows you around the whole store, and as you leave (having bought nothing), you angrily realize that the cashier was following you to make sure that you wouldn’t steal anything. To stereotype is to hold a judgment that is applied to all members of a group, without giving thought to the people in that group who do not fall under that conclusion. Basically, it means to stick a label on a person’s forehead (metaphorically of course), without finding out their true contents.

Certain stereotypes rob people of their rights to live, work, and to play with dignity and respect. In the workplace, people of colour are discriminated against because they are not of the ‘norm’. However, the question arises, who decides what the norm is? Who is to say that coloured people are of less value than those who are white? Most of these prejudices come from the belief that what is not the same as everything else is wrong and dangerous. This completely ridiculous principle has been imprinted into everyone’s minds; the fear of the different.

Another group of people that are brutally discriminated against are homosexuals. Their sexual orientation has been the subject of constant ridicule in today’s society. This prejudice again comes from a person’s fear of the different. Thanks to the disapproving looks from the public, homosexuals are ashamed of their orientation and dread showing their true selves in public. This discrimination lowers the self-worth of this group of people, and makes them think of themselves as inferior, or even worse, that their sexual orientation is wrong. When actually, these people are not that different than heterosexuals, and deserve the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals do.

Stereotyping occurs everyday, everywhere; in the mall, on TV and in music. The sad thing however, is that most people utter these labels without realizing that they are offensive. By forcing someone into a certain category, you put limits on their potential, cutting them off from their personal best. These stereotypes prevent them from getting their dream jobs, the clothes they want to buy, but most of all, they don’t get the respect that they deserve. A simple rule can help to solve these discriminatory problems. Just remember; label jars, not people.


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