You Should Play Football!!

When I was a kid in elementary school, I had a friend named Steven.  Steven was the very definition of big kid in both size and height.  When we were in middle school together, he was well over 6 feet tall.  Every where we went the older kids and adults would ask Steven:

“Man you’re a big boy………………You playin’ football yet.”

It didn’t bother him at first but when you hear it over and over from different people it began to annoy Steven. Just because he was a big kid, people immediately jumped to the conclusion that he played football.  When we went to high school together it got even worse:

“Man you should go out for the football team…………I bet you would be really good.”

“You playin’ football this year…………….they could use you on the offensive line.”

Steven and I lost track of each other before we graduated, as he soon transferred to another high school.  But as I think back to those days, I can never recall Steven ever playing football. Not in school or out in the streets somewhere.  Sure he was a Bears fan (back then everyone was), but I’m certain, Steven never really liked football.  To my knowledge he had a strong desire to drive trucks and work in construction when he got older.

The memories of Steven is just a story of my past I think about from time to time about how people like to stereotype one another based on how people look, their size, their weight and even their color.  The example of Steven is just a childhood example of stereotyping that occurs every day.

Another example that comes to mind was one of my favorite video games as a kid growing up:  “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out”.  Those of you who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s know how much fun this boxing game was for the original Nintendo system, but now that I’ve grown up I cant help but realize how subliminally racist that game is, with its list of characters.  Let’s take for instance, the game had:

A Japanese boxer named “Piston Honda” (like Japanese people can only be identified with automobiles).

A Spanish boxer named “Don Flamenco” (who would always come out dancing to Spanish music with a rose in his mouth, as if he were some sort of matador).

A French boxer, “Glass Joe” (and of course he has to be the WEAKEST boxer in the entire game, coming from France).

A Russian boxer, “Soda Popinski” (who drank all the time, and since they are marketing this game for kids, they removed the vodka in place of soda….. smart).

Last but not least, “Great Tiger” (an Indian boxer who comes out fighting in a TURBAN).

To may people, racial stereotyping is easy and convenient.  Based on assumption, people often paint a broad brush of falsehood to cover a race, gender, or sex.  Whether it’s a belief that Barak Obama is Muslim, because of his name or that all blonde females are somehow, mysteriously less intelligent than any other person on the planet is pure racial stereotyping.  Whenever we fall into this horrid habit, we fail to see the person as their own individual, speaking only for themselves as no two people on this planet are truly alike.  Everyone is different, no matter what group, gender or race they belong to.  To practice this lesson takes effort, something most of society fails to understand.

So the next time you find it convenient to stereotype someone and jump to a quick conclusion, remember to go the extra mile and find out facts about that particular person. Stand out and do what’s right; there are enough people in this world that will do otherwise.

-Darold Ingram

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~ by daroldingram on September 8, 2010.

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