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Someone told me Westerners are more vocal, and I should be that way, as if being reticent was no virtue. That person did not know that in Asian societies, being reserved is an act of modesty, an act of respect to hear what others have to say. Nor did he know that I, an Asian, would not be reserved in sharing my opinion.

As much as our world is globalized, it is extremely hard to know what lies beyond the facade of a culture that you may catch in your encounter with someone from a different background.

When someone links a culture, an ethnicity, a physical quality to a characteristic like “Westerners are more vocal”, the person poses a threat to those who are stereotyped. In a situation in which stereotypes may exist, the population that is targeted by the stereotype performs significantly less than they can. This notion of stereotype threat was demonstrated by a psychological study conducted by Steele and Aronson in 1995.

The experiment divided the participants into two groups: the group which was put in a stereotype condition and the control group, which was put in a non stereotype questions. The participants, who were composed of African Americans and European Americans, were asked to go through a GRE verbal test. The group put in the stereotype condition was told that they they will be assessed on their verbal performance while the other group was told that the researchers simply wished to find out how problems are solved in general. In the stereotype threat condition, the researchers found that the African Americans performed notably worse than their counterparts while in a non-stereotype threat condition, the two ethnic groups performed equally as well.

As a backlash of what happened in Paris, more than half of the United States governors say that Syrian refugees are not welcome in their state. Because of their ethnicity, the citizens of Syria are being denied their right of asylum, a right that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries” as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 14. Simply because of a number of muslims chose to act a certain way, they are being universally discriminated against. Because of the diminutive number of terrorists, the vast number of 1.6 billion Muslims, a number that closely contends with the number of Christians, are now target of discrimination.

If a Christian commits a crime, do you question his or her religion of violence?

Then why do we question if another religion endorses violence or not?

The people who discriminate others, as aforementioned, are in essence, a presence of threat, a clear impingement of human rights. However, I believe that everyone should keep something in mind. Everyone is stereotyped, not always based on race or gender, but based on their physical qualities, what “type” of person you are, or the people you are friends with. Keep in mind that every encounter with a new person, is an opportunity to prove them wrong in whatever prejudgement they held about you, a chance to be who you are, and not who strangers might perceive you to be. So take your chance, break your stereotypes.

 

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