I rounded the corner at my local thrift store yesterday and noticed a group of 3 or 4 Latino out of the corner of my eye. As I walked down the aisle I couldn't help but notice the blatant staring, less "hey, how are you" and more "I've been vegetarian for a year and could really use a steak". This bothered me for several reasons, but my biggest beef was that I found myself caught up in the perpetuation of yet another stereotype.
The media is constantly bombarding us with news stories of rapists and sexual predators, and more often than not the images shown are those of Latino or African American men. Statistically speaking, the majority of rapists in prison are not Caucasian with some 75% being African American. Common sense and a bit more research causes me to question these assumptions. Are the majority of rapists not Caucasian, or is it simply the number of rapists prosecuted and sentenced under our current justice system non-white races? Do white rapists tend to get away with it more?
I mention this because I believe that, despite our best intentions, these subtle messages seep into our subconscious and pepper our reactions to the outside world. When I found myself being ogled like the main course at a buffet, my hackles went up, and my fuck you face went on. Was this a reaction to being offended, or was it social conditioning that led me to leap several scenarios ahead and convict people on the spot?
Something to debate and ponder.