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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Maybe it is human nature to create patterns and association in an attempt to make incoming stimuli into configuration when people meet unfamiliar or unpatented events. But I don’t know if it can take that far enough to explain the stereotyping people here do.

Allow me to give you a few examples:

a) I am not a martial arts master. I like baseball and soccer just as much as boxing or cage fight. But I am not a mater.

b) I don’t speak Chinese and I am not a friend of Bruce Lee (I didn’t even know him much, he’s been dead for long right?) or Jacky Chan. I only know them as good as everyone does. And I have a brother meaning I don’t have one kid policy imposed on me.

c) I cannot make sushi. I can try though in the same sense I could try to beat Roger Federor

d) No I don’t eat cats. I bet some Asian countries do. but no one I knew did.


I may be just as guilty since I did not know anything about Cape Town, in fact Africa in general, I only vaguely knew about a messed-up system of apartheid and The man “Nelson Mandela” both of which think I learnt in history class.

It was annoying a bit only in the beginning. I soon realized that they, mainly kids, are innocent when they call me Jacky Chan. Weather kids or grown-ups, when they ask me lame questions regarding the above, it just could be they are just interested or just trying to be friendly and make a conversation. So I try and do the best I can. but when it catches me in a not so great mood, I reply by saying “yeah I have a gold belt and Bruce lee was my uncle. I can snap your neck just like that.”

By the way I am not talking about relatively educated plus open-minded with a fresh brain I hang out with. They know better and even if they don’t they don’t bother to ask coz they know it is so lame.

I am talking about relatively educated but with a parochial mind. But I am so over it now. I just mentioned some example about my case but it goes for more or less everyone and every country. there are certain type people who don’t get much information except for from watching trashy tv programs. A lot of people don’t even have a tv, which by the way is not entirely a bad thing. I don’t have a tv. But you know what I mean.

My fellow expats! You guys are open-minded. You know better than pigeon holing which only blinds you to other characteristics that are there, even if you don’t know much about places and people thereof.

Who knows actually! I have never been to Europe but I have met many people from Europe here in Cape Town or when I backpacked in asia and south America. It was a very enriching experience and great fun. but still I do not let them represent their country. It sure helps me have fond feelings those places though:)

When I meet someone and they don’t sound like a local I don’t bother to ask where they are from. Maybe it is a good topic to kick start a conversation with but I would like it to come out naturally in the flow of conversation. they have been asked the question hundreds times anyway. it would be a lie if I say I have no stereotypical ideas , however mild, towards certain countries and I don’t want them to get in the way so I don’t ask, rather try to get to know him or her by listening to what they have to say.

Have you ever got comments, questions or been stereotyped that got your eyes rolling but you managed to smile feebly and politely? What are they?
 

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The whole issue of stereotyping is really one of familiarity (or lack thereof) with people who are "different" in some manner. Here in France there are some funny stories about what people think of foreigners.

For example, I met my mother-in-law under difficult circumstances (i.e. at the funeral for her husband). She made lunch for us before we left for the church, and served lentils with pork, a particular favorite of my husband's (and probably of his father). It's a little heavy for me, but under the circumstances, no one took offense when I took a small-ish serving and passed on seconds.

A few days later, after we had gone home, my mother-in-law got all worried that she had served pork to an American. For some reason, she had it in her mind that most Americans are Jewish.

A friend of mine here has MS and is now confined to a wheelchair. There is one very lovely, but somewhat annoying French lady in our newcomers' group who insists on acting all solicitous and pitying toward her (or toward anyone with a good "tragedy" going - illness, accidents, etc.). She means well, but she doesn't seem to understand that some people just adjust and move on.

Some people try to show their "sophistication" by making stupid remarks designed to show that they are aware of differences in cultures. When I first arrived here, I was always offered the most well-done piece of meat or the end slice of the roast because "English speaking people eat their meat well-done."

Stereotypes can be fun, especially if you debunk them with a sense of humor.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
good points

The whole issue of stereotyping is really one of familiarity (or lack thereof) with people who are "different" in some manner. Here in France there are some funny stories about what people think of foreigners.

For example, I met my mother-in-law under difficult circumstances (i.e. at the funeral for her husband). She made lunch for us before we left for the church, and served lentils with pork, a particular favorite of my husband's (and probably of his father). It's a little heavy for me, but under the circumstances, no one took offense when I took a small-ish serving and passed on seconds.

A few days later, after we had gone home, my mother-in-law got all worried that she had served pork to an American. For some reason, she had it in her mind that most Americans are Jewish.

A friend of mine here has MS and is now confined to a wheelchair. There is one very lovely, but somewhat annoying French lady in our newcomers' group who insists on acting all solicitous and pitying toward her (or toward anyone with a good "tragedy" going - illness, accidents, etc.). She means well, but she doesn't seem to understand that some people just adjust and move on.

Some people try to show their "sophistication" by making stupid remarks designed to show that they are aware of differences in cultures. When I first arrived here, I was always offered the most well-done piece of meat or the end slice of the roast because "English speaking people eat their meat well-done."

Stereotypes can be fun, especially if you debunk them with a sense of humor.
Cheers,
Bev
“Most Americans are Jewish.” I wonder where on earth she gets that sort of things. I would be more lenient if they are elderly. They are too set in their own way of seeing the world and I do not want to disturb it, or if they are innocent kids who happen to see kung fu movies in black and while in the preceding week.

I don’t usually debunk or correct them since I feel it is not my business or job and it will not help anyway. Just as gullible as they might be, I don’t want them to believe everything I say coz I could be very wrong.

it is just it makes me a bit tired sometimes when people ask lame questions i.e. what is the difference between Korean, Chinese and Japanese. The answer is I don’t know. I have never been to China or Korea. I only know a few from there. different names mean different countries or it would be one country. different cultures, languages, policies etc that is as much as I know.

like asking what is the difference between Belgium, France and Switzerland, they share the language partially and geographically not so far apart from one another right? just because you have a dark hair does not mean you are from Italy or Spain. Not all Germans are a beer drinker nor all Espaniors a matador. Then again I am not a karate master, never learnt, although I wish.

I agree with you when you say;

“Some people try to show their "sophistication" by making stupid remarks designed to show that they are aware of differences in cultures.”

I think you hit the nail there. they just like to show that they know some stuff and warm up to you and you warm up to them, however it cools me down most of the times.
 

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Sometimes the issue of stereotyping is just a function how different you are. In your case, I'd imagine there aren't all that many Japanese people in South Africa - or perhaps just not in the part of South Africa where you live.

There was an interesting book here in France, written by a journalist originally from Africa (somewhere - I forget which country) called "I'm black but I don't like manioc." It was mostly about the reactions his kids got in the schools in France. Both children were born and raised in France, and were full fledged native born French citizens. But even though France makes a big deal about "égalité" and the schools being their primary means of assimilating all immigrants, there were exceptions for black children - so they could learn about "their African heritage."

The journalist was livid about this. His kids were French and had no more reason to learn about tribes in Africa or African music and food than any of the white kids in the class. But, as usual, it seems like someone was trying to be nice about the "differences" they perceived.

Well-intentioned stereotypes can usually be overturned with humor. It's the unstated stereotypes that are hard to counter-act.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I tend to forget the fact that i am in the supa minority. If I am not mistaken, asians are amount to less than 2% of the population and Japanese would be less than 5% (my guess) of 2%.

But I think that is a good thing, not being reminded all the time. However small a minority I am in, there are so many from all walks of life here which creates diversity which makes it colourful.

Well-intentioned stereotyping could very well be the person’s endeavour to connect and as you said it can be overturned with humour. And I think I should do so.

thanks
 
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