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Monday, October 10, 2011

Dichotomy of Racialized Stereotypes

The stereotypes about Asian-Americans act as foils to those about black folks. In whatever manner black folk are characterized, Asians tend to be seen as the exact opposite.

Dare I mention stereotypes about penis size?
The tightly correlated dichotomy illustrates how contrived all of these stereotypes actually are. 
Check out the chart complied by Abagond -->

Striking, isn't it?
Surely we don't believe that such descriptions just happen to perfectly parallel each other. These characterizations have been constructed by years of conditioning and prejudice. 

Polarized stereotypes allow us to suppose that if Asian-Americans meet with success, racism must not actually be a big deal. They allow us to assume that there is something wrong with those that don't succeed, and that we can feel secure in supporting the status quo. 

Often termed the
 'Three Bears Effect'
Artificial polarization helps to pit people of color against each other, leading to division where we should have unity. The 'divide-and-conquer' strategy fuels modern racism. It also allows white folks to sit comfortably in the middle, further normalizing their culture relative to the 'extremes' around them.

By allowing such dichotomies, we belittle the fact that Asian-Americans do indeed encounter a great deal of racism. Even 'good' racial stereotype are never actually as beneficial as they may seem (see post: Model Minority). Despite a supposed 'model minority' work ethic, Asian-Americans still experience higher levels of poverty per capita than white folks do, and must constantly battle perceptions of being perpetual foreigners

What do you think readers? Does this model of stereotype polarization hold? 
What about other POC groups: how do they fit into this paradigm? 


  1. Blacks have their descriptions of the Asian Americans too.  Racism is present in all races...If you read the Bible... it began long, long ago... so there is nothing new under the sun. It is good that we today have learn ways to deal with it.  We all have the same blood line... just less opportunities that causes the "isms".  It's articles like this that keep the minds thinking about racism. 

    At least we all live and die... no barriers!

  2. This is great work Katelin! Are you in grad school?

  3. Thanks! Yep (in an unrelated field).
    I've been following the CHAT happenings very closely. Great momentum! Exciting!
    We are trying to create similar environments with our church and the youth in our neighborhood. Prayers! 

  4. Right! Lot's of work to do and the Church needs to be on the forefront, not dragging behind.
    Side note: I did a brief post on some of the biblical aspect of racism, if your interested:

  5. Katelin! Absoultely fabulous work! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sherian Johnson WynnOctober 10, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    just aside note but i am an african american and the church i attend is predominantly black and our sister church is predominately chinese...and two things i have noticed is that whenever we get together there is always good food...but we are always late starting things...surprisingly the chinese more than the black i guess 'cp'(colored people) time applies to anyone who has a hint of melanin in their skin lol (although one should always strive to be 5 minutes early...I am just talking about the overarching majority of tendencies)

  7. haha! I know better than to comment on that! 
    Thanks for sharing!

    Tell me more about your church partnership. What does involve and how do the two communities engage with each other? Have you had success in building meaningful relationships that go beyond the leadership of your respective fellowships? 
    Always glad to hear about such endeavors.

  8. Sherian Johnson WynnOctober 10, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    we are actually both prayer house ministries. We (the people who started the prayer house ministry that happens to be predominantly black just because of location) are good friends with the children of the pastors of the chinese prayer house. We all met through a prayer ministry on our college campus and the ministry ties kind of formed after the friendship. So I guess it all birthed out of friendship!

  9. So often the case! Relationship and friendship lays the foundation for justice and reconciliation! Excited for you all!

  10. Great post, Katelin! I hadn't heard the term "three bears effect" before but it makes a lot of sense -- we allow ourselves to think "those in the middle are just right" (nm the inaccuracies of both the extreme & the "middle" stereotypes!)

    Thanks for sharing :-)

  11. Great post, Katelin! I hadn't heard the term "three bears effect" before
    but it makes a lot of sense -- we allow ourselves to think "those in
    the middle are just right" (nevermind the inaccuracies of both the extreme
    & the "middle" stereotypes!)

    Thanks for sharing :-)


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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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