Opinions

This hour has 22 stereotypes

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The historic election in the U.S. has kept everyone on their toes with anxiety, anticipation and even fear. Such a dramatic turn in politics is not common. The U.S. and Canada have truly taken steps toward creating racial equality.

These changes are inspirational and make the citizens of these countries more tolerant towards other ethnic groups, but they create a cycle of racial bias that recurs in our minds subconsciously. Health care, for example, has heavy racial biases. Patients and doctors experience racial barriers amongst many others during the process of checkups, treatments and surgeries. In a New York Times article, Pauline Chen, an Asian-American doctor, writes of her experiences with racial bias. As well, she writes of her colleague Eric, an African-American doctor who was frequently asked by patients whether he was a transport or not. None of the patients ever assumed he was a doctor. Such fears or judgements are what deepen these biases and embed them in one's mind. Moreover, the barriers they create are harmful to both patients and doctors, regardless of who the biased party is.

Among other issues in our world of tumbling economies, political tension and other daunting concerns, racial judgements do not seem to be harmful. In fact, in the face of other problems, this issue seems a bit silly. After all, living in a country that claims to be pluralist, appreciative of every ethnicity and minority, people still harbour judgements and ready-made perceptions based on stereotypes that are often reinforced by the media. It is ironic that the same media, such as the CBC, that runs documentaries and news specials on disadvantaged visible minorities are the ones that air shows, like This Hour has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce, meant to ridicule certain groups, though satirically. In such a situation the expectation that people will be deferred from holding judgements against minorities is an unrealistic one. Banning such satirical shows may stop the embedding of stereotypes in audience's minds, but is not the complete solution.

According to the article, Dr. Somnath Saha, a researcher in this field, put forth the following suggestion: acknowledge one's own biases and stereotypes first. As Chen puts it, she found it extremely hard to do-- she felt compelled to empathize with patients of her racial background and found herself looking for past experiences with people of other ethnicities in order to connect. What is required from the public in such situations-- banning shows or recognizing one's own biases-- is not sufficient to change the way millions view others as races, not people. An active plan would be one that shuts down all outer sources of disruption, all sources that contribute to and manipulate individual thought. This would include a complete washout of our current media-- a purge, redesigning schools to include more teachers from minority groups, bringing minorities to political seats, research in the right direction for the right reason-- to educate, and not let old misconceptions fester and grow.

It is unfortunate that such blooming and growing countries like the U.S. and Canada have fallen prey to a relatively small and more personal issue that is destroying our society like a cavity does a tooth-- it has grown from within our society and is taking a turn for the worse. In the case that the direction we are headed in does not change, concerns much bigger and distressing than troubled economies and high fuel prices can be anticipated-- a revolution perhaps, maybe war at the worst. Truly, change is what we need, but when and how it is delivered is what counts most.

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