Racial Profiling

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A stereotype is a mistaken idea or belief many people have about a thing or group that is based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or only partly true.[2] Stereotyping people is a type of prejudice because what is on the outside is a small part of who a person is. Like other untrue opinions, stereotypes might be used as reasons to discriminate against another person, or sometimes for a humorous effect in fiction.

To understand different examples of stereotypes, you should first define what a stereotype is. Any time you grouping races or individuals together and make a judgment about them without knowing them, this is an example of a stereotype.

Racial Profiling

One of the more common stereotype examples is stereotypes surrounding race. For example, saying that all Blacks are good at sports is a stereotype, because it's grouping the race together to indicate that everyone of that race is a good athlete.

Gender Profiling

There are also some common stereotypes of men and women, such as:

Men are strong and do all the work.

Men are the "backbone."

Women aren't as smart as a man.

Men who spend too much time on the computer or read are geeks.Cultures

Stereotypes also exist about cultures an countries as a whole. Stereotype examples of this sort include the premises that:

All white Americans are obese, lazy, and dim-witted. Homer Simpson of the TV series The Simpsons is the personification of this stereotype.

Mexican stereotypes suggest that all Mexicans are lazy and came into America illegally.

All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists.

All people who live in England have bad teeth.

Italian or French people are the best lovers.

All Blacks outside of the United States are poor.

All Jews are greedy. All Asians are good at math. All Asians like to eat rice and drive slow.

ACTIVITY 1: Stereotyping


Students will understand the implications and limitations of stereotyping people, which is in effect judging them on a few characteristics only.

This activity is intended as an introduction to the concepts of prejudice and discrimination with an examination of the nature and limiting effects of our application of stereotypes. A working definition of these concepts is provided in the Background Information Sheet.

You may wish to amend the cards on the Student Sheet to represent different groups of people or to adapt the activity to suit the age, abilities and prior experience of your students. The intention is that the activity will encourage students to challenge their own stereotypes.


STUDENT SHEET: Stereotypes [.doc] – cut and made into cards.



Group students in pairs and distribute cards made from the Student Sheets – one card per pair.

Support students as they decide upon three characteristics people might associate with the person described on their card.

When they have recorded these on their card, bring students together again and ask each pair in turn to describe their person to the class by listing the three characteristics.

They might start their statement with: Some people might think this person…

The rest of the class then tries to guess the person being stereotypically described.

Display the captions ‘Positive characteristics’ and ‘Negative characteristics’ on the wall. Ask students to place their cards appropriately.

Invite the class to comment on whether they agree with each placing and to consider why positive characteristics were attributed to some people and negative to others.

Discuss with students why we generalise in this way and can it ever be useful.

Encourage students to consider possible exceptions to their stereotypical descriptions.

For example:

Can we have a non-elderly grandmother?

Are all people who wear glasses brainy?

Do the scientist Albert Einstein and the pop singer Mika fit the stereotype of a refugee
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