Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Opinions and stereotypes

Now that I am back I can recount some of my adventures.On the 3rd a friend invited me to hang out with her and her other pals.This pal aka J was one of the first people I got to know when I got here and even though she has a lot of drama, she can be nice and know lots of people.But there is one thing about her way of thinking that irritates me and is prevalant in many people, Kenyan and otherwise.The Stereotype Disease!Here are some of her jewels:
1. All African American Men (akataas) are lazy, good for nothings who want to get women to take care of them.We once passed through an area of Atlanta downtown and in one area the homeless were being fed, they all happened to be black and male; so she used that to punctuate her point.I wanted to counter that yes some of those men there are lazy good for nothings but that is a minority, there are some of them who had the bad luck of committing felonies so they can't get steady paying work as a felony is a kiss of death to most careers here, the death of manufacturing in the states is slowly killing employment opportunities for the uneducated who are mostly members of minorities,immigrants from South America are willing to work for less pay then Americans; and the list goes on.It is tempting to come up with quick conclusions but there is a reason for everything!
2.White European men are more generous then White American men - Well you see when this mama was in Kenya, she used to date middle aged European men ie Germans,Swiss etc.And with the good exchange rate for their currencies they used to shower her with money, pay her bills etc.So when she came to the States she thought she had hit the jackpot.All the white men she could have.But alas it was not to be!She was no longer the cream of the crop.So now she attributes it to American men being cheap skates.Let's look at it from another point of view.Could it be that American men have less discretionary income due to the economy?Could it be that she has been dating the wrong white men?Could it be that there is no exchange to boost the dollar power as there was back home when it was the franc or pound vs the shilling?Could it be that the tastes in women of American men and European men differ as black women are all over in the states while in Europe they are somewhat harder to come by?I am not even
3.When it comes to hiring White people are racist - She believes that when it comes to office jobs that more often then not white folk look after their own and won't hire a black person unless it is completely neccesary.Well I do agree that there are some companies that are racist in terms of hiring and retention but I also do know that there are a whole lot of companies that are more willing to give you a chance if you are well qualified.So this doesn't apply to all companies here.
4.Tribal Stereotypes - There are so many of these and I am sure you all know some of them.Let's just say if someone is related in a money related issue and they happen to be Kikuyu she wont fail to point out the connection or if someone is busted lying and they happen to be from the coastal area she will point that out.I do admit that I found it rather shocking the tribal division present here but I won't say that I am free from the stereotyping.I often attribute my room mates bullish manner to the fact that he comes from Meru and not his youth, I also have a major distrust of West Africans esp Nigerians but I dont take it to the levels of preventing me from interacting with my roomie and other merus or hanging out and chatting with the Nigerian students here.
Fact is, that it's tempting to tar people with one brush as the human mind loves to categorise people into groups but let's not let it obscure reality and the truth.I can admit that I am trying my best, but are you?


kelitu said...

LOL! @ No. 2
It was cheaper to take care of her while back in kenya coz once you convert their money to KSHs, you are balling.

About Akataz, Lord help 'em. Most of them are bums and want to be b-ball playaz or rappers (most rappers where in mix tapes before making it big).
Have you ever noticed none of them wanna be in the NFL coz it requires one to be a college student? and akataz and books do not mix- it's a known fact.

Yeah that tribal thing irks me- big time!
I know we all stereotype each other (tribe-wise) but when someone asks me that as a second question after asking my name, i usually turn them off.

acolyte said...

@ kelitu
Yes that point is true but reasoning is not her strong point so I don't bother trying to explain some things to her lest she gets pissed at me.
As for akataz much as at times I do try to stand up for them and understand them, they shoot themselves in the foot alot.As someone once said, too many black men are looking to be in the NBA instead of for an MBA.So when that fails they have no fallback plan.
As for tribal grouping that pisses me off to no end too!I tell people that I am a Kenyan whenever that question comes up.

Joseph Walking said...

african americans are just like kenyans .wghen ever you want to bash and collectively punish african americans think td jakes,colin powell then think again.

mutumia said...

Statement #1 is just plain ignorant - your girl sucks (no roho safi on this one)- then again- she used to date middle aged Norwegian men so it's easy to see where she's coming from- she totally fits the profile. Does she perchance have thinly shaven eyebrows and bleached skin? Nijulushe tafadhali.

Sasa Aco--- pigia mtoto simu. Analuluza daddy ako wapi :)

Kenyanchick said...

Although there is no love lost between me and Akataz, I do agree that stereotypes are a pain (and not particularly helpful). On the other hand, Aco, ati there are people who have "had the bad luck of committing felonies?" LOL!! That's taking it a little too far in the opposite direction. They've got to take responsibility sometime. When someone's got a gun in my face, it's MY luck that's bad, not theirs!

Girl next door said...

I'm gonna be the first to admit some biases, and say alot of stereotypes are based on facts and real-life experiences. I find some of your buddy's stereotypes amusing but there's some reality. Interacting with most akataas has just reinforced many stereotypes for me. And there is a difference between white American men and white European men regardless of income or age. I've been meeting Nigerians everywhere lately and I just don't trust them. I won't dismiss all individuals but I'm cautious @ times. But I do try.

Shiroh said...

Stereotyping comes of as a result of repeated behaviour. but i guess it would be irritating to hang around anyone who keeps on yapping up and about why some different people are these. Just because some Kikuyus are thieves doesnt make all Kikuyus thieves..

egm said...

The "bad luck of committing felonies" caught my eye as well. In the context of the post, I think what aco meant (correct me if I'm wrong) was that this past actions of these people catches up with them and as a result they can't get jobs as easily.

With that said, I agree with KC. These people should take responsibility for their lives and what they do. If they go ahead and mess things up for themselves in the future by their actions today, that is upon them.

The only time I would counter this arguement is in the case of how they were brought up. The posts on the role of fathers touched some on this issue. You will find people oblivious to the law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and so when they get caught up in these nefarious activities, they learn.

Wahenga kwa kweli walijua waliponena, "Asiyefunzwa na mamake, atafunzwa na ulimwengu"

And yes, stereotyping is dangerous. Just focussing on Kenyans, there are parts of Massachusetts you go to where Kenyans are synonymous with trouble. You can't get a hall rented there for a Kenyan function. From what I hear, the hall owner can revoke that rental even at the last minute if they realise you are Kenyan because of the bad rep from others.

At the same time, in a different part of Mass, Kenyans are respected big time. If a cop stops you for DWB, chances are after hearing you speak and realising you are not AfAm, and even better Kenyan, they will let you go more easily.

My solution, treat everyone individually.

The Virus! said...

Ahem.First time here.Uhhh!!
Intersting to note that your 'good friend'D-shy has no worthy postulation on this.
Hmmm.We need to get her a job so that she can get her groove back.

POTASH said...

As Social Disorganisation Theories of crime is important to my writing, I couldn't help noting your comment on 'bad luck of commiting felonies.'
EGM' s interpratation makes sense but then it is an indictment on the American punishment and reward system and not clearly a statement of the link between poverty, crime and unemployment... but i digress.

I am a believer in stereotypes. They are ways in which particular people are brought up. Social learning process makes us who we are, so it is possible that your mother taught you the way she was taught which is to think like a member of a particular community.

What is wrong is the typecasting and racial profiling that tends to imply that people are in capable of thinking outside the mould of their upbringing. That because, certain communities are generally lazy that then, individuals from that community cannot appreciate industry!!!

egm said...

@ Potash. If I read you right, you say it is right to admit stereotypes do exist as a fact of life, but it is our reactions to these stereotypes as applied to individuals (what you call typecasting) that is the issue. Nimekufahamu?

FIDA said...

speaking of opinions.mashada has some interesting ones

acolyte said...

@ joseph
I totally agree with you!That is why whenever one of them screws up I always remember that there is one somewhere who hasn't!Plus I do think that some feel the same way about us.
@ mutumia
Hey gal!Much as what you said was harsh I have to agree with you.She may not have tweaked eye brows ama she let them grow when she came here but she does have that skin tone and compact figure that jungus like.
My dear ambia juniour nitampigia simu jioni!
@ Kenyanchick
I knew that comment would get me in trouble.Let's just say what I meant is that their stupid mistakes would come back to haunt them!
I do agree that many stereotypes are based on experience and I also agree that akataas are a very very very trying lot of people but that doesnt mean that some of them arent nice focussed people too.But I am in no way an akataa apologist!
As for Nigerians don't open your arms to them, just keep them somewhere you can keep an eye on them.
@ shiroh
I go agree such company can get tireing esp when you are trying to have a serious convo.
@ egm
I am beginning to rue the fact that I made that statement!
But thanks for clearing things up!I think that too many of these peeps are ignorant of the law and are not willing to put in the time needed to move up the right way, easy money is very tempting esp here in states.
@ the virus
Thanks for passing by.I think she no longer feels welcome over here.
@ potash
Yes America does operate on a crime and punishment system.Hence the high incarceration rates here.
I do agree stereotypes are tempting but I am sure you have heard of the stereotype threat theory.
Do you think that the way people are treated due to stereotypes about them leads them to commit actions that reinforce those stereotypes?

acolyte said...

@ fida is just plain off the wall.Discussions start well but then degenerate into free for alls!

POTASH said...

I disagree aco. To use a Kikuyu man merely for illustration, he will not steal because his boss calls hima thief anyway. He steals because part of his social learning/ parenting and all taught him to get what he wants by all means foul or fair.
The stereotype does not lead to the action, rather it is the collective actions, reapeated over a timeframe that constitute a stereotype, and the individual acts according to it, by default rather than under weight of circumstances.

acolyte said...

With the way you say it how can I disagree at all?

M said...

Not just felonies, if these guys commit any kind of crime whatsoever, their chances for a job look a lot slimmer... Moses was applying for a temporary job w/ a shady agency, where TONS of men and women with their crying children waited hours in line just to turn in their application and be told when they could work (they wer told to come back next week, and the next week, etc). And there was a big sign, telling people not to apply if they had committed any of many crimes even for a job that likely pays $6/hr, you can't have ever made a mistake of stealing something. It just takes one time, one stupid decision in adolescence, to severely compromise your opportunities. and those stupid decisions are a lot more common if you live in a bad, crime-ridden neighborhood, or all the guys your age are doing it, or your family is doing it, or you dont have a family. so yes, it is bad luck to be born into that life. Yes you can change it and "rise up" if you try really, really hard, but honestly, how many people born into a good environment have to work that hard? would they be able to if they had to?

and the tribal thing- when Moses and I were at the big Kenyan memorial day celebration in dallas, some guys told us that to be happy, we would have to find a neighborhood that had both whites and Kisiis, because I couldnt possiblly be happy w/o whites, and moses couldnt be happy w/o Kisiis. and of course, Kenyans here in ATL still talk about tribes too, like if they go back to Kenya and become an MP, they will only elect x tribe to y position, and wont elect tribes a, b, and c. I would think that being in the US would help people question these tribal stereotypes because there are so many different kinds of people here, and you can't fit them into little boxes.

acolyte said...

@ m
It seems that any sort of crime just cuts down your chances big time huh?I do agree that where you are brought up increases the chances of you being caught up in certain drama.
As for the dude you met at the party.I think that it is good for Moses to live near Africans, not neccesarily Kisiis as that just limits who he can get to know.I also find it irritating how tribal Kenyans become when they get to the states.Believe me when you go to Kenya, apart from when it comes to politics Kenyans do mingle freely irregardless of tribe.