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View Full Version : History of the Origin of Stereotypes



Rachel Udin
08-13-2012, 05:07 AM
Please avoid arguing if a stereotype is right or wrong. I don't want this descending into a war. Instead, I thought it would be useful to look at the origin of the stereotypes in terms of time and add resources to look at.

This is because some schools don't even give you a leg up on these sorts of things, so having resources to look at for the origin of stereotypes, I thought would be a good idea. Also wikipedia doesn't really cover it unless you know what you're looking for... so...

I think knowing the origin of stereotypes helps one to fight them and further. It also helps when you're writing to either go with it, go against it, figure out how much would be internalized or not internalized for a particular character, as well as for within yourself. Often stereotypes are passed or inadvertently taught and you start to believe them because you weren't told why or where they came from. If you don't face them down in yourself, you often make mistakes. (Personal experience talking here)

My only request is that you make the group you're talking about bold to make it easier to skim. You'll see below.

Asian (US)

The first Asians to come to the US in large force were the Chinese. They came to be known for building rail roads, particularly on the West Coast. ( http://cprr.org/Museum/Chinese.html ) This is where the racial slur that starts with a C came in. Also, the stereotype of the lilting accent came in. The stringed ponytail also came in here. I also think there is enough evidence for the stereotype of the insular Asian groups also come from here. As well as all Asians drink tea. (revisit that later.) Because, at the time, Chinese were insular/accused of being insular, this is also around the time that Asians were called permanent immigrants because *some* refused to learn English, which should sound familiar... (Hispanic groups)

This was the second group, in general, to be accused of stealing jobs from whites. (The first being African American Slaves) Reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3Xe1kX7Wsc

This was followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Exclusion_Act ) and then reenforced in 1924 by the Chinese Immigration act (in response to the Boxer Rebellion) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Immigration_Act_of_1923 ) and then compounded by the 1909 act to exclude "Eastern Europeans" but it was used to exclude mainly Asian-Americans (and Italians on religious grounds.) This was finally repealed in 1965 (along with the other acts before it).

Don't make any mistakes though, the film industry during those years did a bunch of yellow-face too. (See I am Bruce Lee movie to cover that, which has a good overview of race and Hollywood in general too, besides covering an awesome man.)

Because it was hard for Asian Americans to get into the country, let alone get a good representation on film, many of them thought the fast track was to become doctors and lawyers. Though the idea of "better of Asians" came later.

Japanese still came into the country despite the various acts and quotas. I'm a little unclear on why (before World War I and II) besides that it offered hope.

However, WWII brought new stereotypes. And this is where the other Asian slur of "J--" came in. It was used on signs, to exclude people from buying things, thus was born the "Internment" camps, which should be called "Concentration Camps" and then the Jewish/gay/Romani ones of the Nazis called "Death" camps. This is where the "Submissive" Asian woman came in (Because I've found that sexualizing and calling women "Submissive" usually comes as the result of war and rape. This probably wasn't helped by Vietnam war later down the line.), probably also Asians can't play sports came in. Asians are smart was reenforced.

Japanese also, at that time, were doing migrant work. (Which oddly sounds familiar, doesn't it?) So they were accused of taking *gasp* white people's jobs. (See Tim Wise video on White people definition being made by white people.) This was mainly in California, Washinton and Oregon (in order). So their businesses and homes were seized by the government for profit. They later were compensated, but there are still people alive that remember those times. Nisei (Second generation) are still sensitive about J-- slur because it was used to put them into camps. You can see many talks by George Takei, some on you tube about those times.

Koreans also came in as the result of the Korean War (Getting to other groups too--working through the timeline roughly.) This resulted in the slur g--- which in Korean means country. Also compounded the "submissive" Asian girl stereotype because when you are raping someone, they sure do seem submissive... though there were *legit* relationships from that war as well. (Yes, happa gets a lot of flack in Korea too). Because Koreans (and somewhat Chinese) set up family funds, the idea that Asians run banks, restaurants, and the doctor lawyer thing came into play. *despite these titles* It's been shown that Asians, as a group (including Filipinos, etc) still earn less *for the cities they live in* and a large portion are poor compared to their white counterparts, and I believe the reference also said sometimes more than blacks for the same cities, but don't quote me on that. (White like Me by Tim Wise). Just putting that in. Because of the collective family fund, Koreans (and Chinese) seemed to start off better than other Immigrant counterparts, so they seem to have "made" it faster. Even if this isn't true.

Then there is the Vietnam war, which compounded with other stereotypes. (Noodles was reaffirmed, even if Pho is NOT a native dish to Vietnamese restaurants... but a compiling of various exogenous foods) Again, war==rape (especially when soldiers get frustrated) and again, compounded it, though this group gets it less since the women used bamboo against the US soldiers. That gotta hurt a whole bunch!

The South Asian stereotypes compounded the idea that Asians are good with technology and again, doctors, and as a result (because of earlier US ideologies) they must not be good at sports. Again, South Asians were not common on television and since yellow face finally stopped (though the humiliating movies did not) the idea that Asians are against people acting popped up. (I'm not sure on an exact date on this one) Particular to Indians is the notion they are terrorists (because people can't tell groups apart), Hinduism is "backwards" and that the only thing that Indians eat is curry and naan. Again, with the stealing of jobs from white people. (This line doesn't get old. It's happened to all PoC groups thusfar.) Also, the all Indians wear turbans thing.

The majority of the stereotypes about Indians, from what I can tell, came from the British occupation. Desexualized men, oversexualized women (Kama Sutra kinda compounded that), diseased, poor, backwards (because of religion), dirty, etc. The mystic Asian (helped along by Hollywood martial arts movies) also is tied to this group. The wise sage (guru) that says less. (See similarities in Magical Black Man)

South Western Asians, including Turkey, Iran, Iraq, etc. Get the terrorist thing, mostly as a result of 9/11. (Something about war). Also about the oppression of women. And again, can't tell the groups apart. And again, don't know there are different sub groups within the larger groups. And again, the one color idea... there are whites from that region too. Even if someone from that region isn't

Filipinos most people don't know what to do with that group. I think a lot of people think they can group them with Hispanic populations. (Geography is not a public school strong suit in the US). If you are going to write this group, looking at Chinese occupation of the native people and then subsequent Spanish occupation is a good idea. The struggle between Taglish, English and Tagalog also is a good thing to look into. As a result of getting mixed with Hispanic groups, I've seen stereotypes from Hispanic groups get mixed in with Filipinos, such as the idea that Filipinos are perpetually poor.

Russians, though not counted as POC, are Asians get the drunk (minor White groups are somehow all called drunk... and if not drunk, then insular. See Irish, Germans, Italians) They are, like South Asians, excluded from being called "real" Asians" which is designated to the first Asian groups who were mostly Mongoloid. This may also be because Russians and Europeans often intermarried. (See Queen Victoria)

You can see this covered pretty well by Ronald Takaki.

I also know about various Native American/First Nation group's stereotype origins and African American stereotype origins, but I think people from those groups can cover it *better* than I can because they are more invested in tracking it.

Also Hispanic stereotypes... African, as in from Africa, unfortunately crosses a lot over with African American (along with that annoying thing about Africa being a country--which should look familiar to Asia is only East Asian, and Native Americans are one tribe)

Oh, and Expanded Horizons (http://expandedhorizons.net/magazine/) has a series of articles covering Native American stereotypes written by a Native American (who goes over differentiating various tribes as well and the portrayals in movies over time.)

Hoping someone is willing to cover the other ones with some references... though I'm willing to give up some of the ones I know off hand.

Oh, and Eric Foner is a good read for US history... which covers race, though less race relations. It was thrown out of the Texas school board for teaching slavery. Should give some clues about the origins of stereotypes as well.

Anyway, the more I look at prejudice, the more I find that stereotypes are recycled and the same crap that happens to one group, usually is used for another. I wonder if that tells anything about human psychology at all--or if that just says that humans aren't that original.

I'll field respectful questions too... if I wasn't clear or I missed a stereotype you were looking for. If you want to correct something, please do so with references... I'd like to correct it for myself too.