We set expectations on not just ourselves but for others, hoping that everyone we meet or interact with should be just like us or if not they are judged. We constantly take for granted who we are, where we came from and where exactly we are headed in life. In The Bahamas, it is most common to be judged based on race, gender, sexual orientation, complexion, personalities, body type or irregularities that are not considered the standard of beauty in our society. These fixed ideas, beliefs or expectations we have about another are defined as stereotypes. We all have been judged or stereotype others in our lives whether it truly affected us emotionally or not. Stereotyping others did not start overnight; it developed over time as we got older, due to learned behaviors.Stereotypes are demonstrated on television, in movies, and on social media platforms. This is where we learn many of our beliefs from apart from friends, family and in our environment. In our personal lives living in The Bahamas, we have observed others being criticized and told that they are “too dumb”, or, “too black”, or teased for being of another nationality such as a Haitian. Pathetic as it may seem, the reality is that we have been subjected to harsh criticisms in our lives.
In the article “Stereotypical Bahamas” created by an international student from the Bahamas by the name, Thomas Sykes who had studied at Maryville College expressed his experiences as a Bahamian studying abroad. He wrote an article on popular questions he has received from others who are of different nationalities. One offensive comment is the comparison of The Bahamas to Jamaica or like he stated, “having a Jamaican accent”. Another comment was the thought that all Bahamians lived on the beach. Also, someone asked him a very silly question if he rode a dolphin to school. He also received aggravating comments of others telling him that he is not a Bahamian because he is Caucasian. His all-time favorite stereotypical phrased about The Bahamas is “the land of paradise”. When in fact we are far from paradise due to the increasing crime rates in our country and the cost of living is high in The Bahamas due to taxes and imported goods.
Another interesting finding is a research journal called “The stigma of being Haitian in The Bahamas”. Haitian migrants or descendants are linked to illegal immigrants, uneducated and poor. Yes, there is a language barrier that differentiates them from the Bahamian population but they should not be treated differently because we all are humans. Haitians migrated to The Bahamas in search of a better life for them or their families, whether it may be for employment or educational purposes. The article also stated something very disturbing me but true. Haitians were blamed for every social and medical condition that occurs in The Bahamas. Who were the persons that cast this blame? It was some of our naive Bahamian population being stereotypical. I grew up listening to foolish accusations about Haitians creating and spreading diseases, they are the ones trafficking narcotics into our country and the most famous of them all, they are the ones committing the crimes in our country. There are also complaints of Haitian immigrants using up all of our resources at the expense of the Bahamian people. Some Bahamians are very prejudiced towards persons who are of different nationalities especially towards Haitians. They feel threatened by them.
On November 26th, 2018 The Tribune released an article about how women in The Bahamas are not valued at the workplace in the public and private sectors. Women are not paid as equally as men, in which an activist by the name of Alicia Wallace called it “the gender wage gap”. This interview was in response to the United Nations’ initial findings that 30 percent (30%) of the working Bahamian population between males and females, ranked The Bahamas 75th on the gender inequality index. The United Nations council called attention to deep-rooted male-dominated attitudes and discrimination in our society has placed a dividend between a working male and a female. This is very stereotypical. A strong confident educated woman will always be labeled as aggressive, bossy and intimidating compared to their male counterparts; this will more than likely restrict them from receiving a promotion on the job. For a female working in a male-gendered type task, a woman does not receive credit where it is due. Women are granted promotions based on proven performances, unlike their male counterparts. There are stricter standards held when promoting a woman than with a man. Women are always perceived as being emotionally sensitive and having concerns for others. This is known as gender stereotyping. But, if a woman goes against these types of stereotypes and portrays them as being manlike then she will be penalized by a backlash effect. These types of stereotypes are the results and causes of deep-rooted attitudes, values, norms, and preconceptions against a woman. This sexist attitude holds back the amelioration of a woman. I interviewed a few mid-aged men on the types of stereotypes they are faced with in life and they all stated that our society expects all men to have some form of bravery and believes that they are not emotional creatures. They also expect all men to be good with their hands in regards to mechanical work or a repairperson in the house. Which isn’t true for all men.
Homosexuals face stereotypes daily in their lives living in The Bahamas because it is not considered a norm in our “Christian society”. I grew up in a world where homosexuals are bullied, killed and rejected because of their sexual preferences. Some may think gays are pedophiles and do not feel comfortable when their kid’s teacher is a homosexual. Others may think that all gays have HIV/AIDS and are non-religious. Homosexuals are considered a violation of the gender norms in the Bahamian society due to their appearance, occupation, mannerism, etc. Persons may think that all homosexuals hate themselves and that is not always the case. Another stereotypical thought I believe in is that being gay is by choice. When I asked numerous homosexuals about it, they replied that it is not by choice and that they were born that way. I also thought that gay men are attracted to all men and have an obsession with sex. After getting to know more about the LGBT community and what they believed in, I started to obtain a positive outlook about the community.
An online survey was conducted in my research on stereotypes. The purpose of the survey was to compare my research and views on stereotypes as it relates to other experiences living in The Bahamas. I received 53 responses from anonymous (of age, gender, name, and race) living in The Bahamas that took part in my findings. I made this survey anonymous so that no one felt uncomfortable answering each question honestly based on his or her beliefs or opinions. The average completion rate was 100% and an average time spent of one minute and twenty-seven seconds (00h:01m:27s) total. They were asked a total of ten (10) questions listed in the appendix.
According to the results, many people believed that being stereotypical is a learned behavior. Most persons experience gender stereotypes in their lives as it relates to the gender wage gap (women not paid equally as men), labeled as aggressive, bossy, intimidating or any characteristics that they are not or have been restricted from receiving a promotion based on their gender. Persons also felt that gender stereotypes affect mostly women and only a few individuals believed that it has more of an effect on men. Many people believed that the Bahamian society supports gender stereotypes and that racial stereotypes exist in The Bahamas. One of the most interesting results of them all was question six, 32 persons agreed to judge or labeling someone because of their race, whereas 21 persons claimed they have not. Many people believe that being a homosexual is by choice and have judged or labeled a person or persons because of their sexual orientation. A lot of persons have been affected physically or emotionally when others labeled them outside of their character, whereas only a few are not bothered by what a person may say or thinks about them. The most interesting of them all was in fact question ten. A total of 24 persons believes that we can eliminate gender and racial stereotypes, whereas 28 persons strongly disagreed.
In conclusion, we have all faced stereotypes in our lives, whether we have done it to others or vise versa. Stereotyping others is very problematic and unfair. We must learn how to eliminate stereotypical behaviors. The first step to eliminating stereotypical behaviors research has shown is to educate ourselves on racism, prejudices and gender stereotypes. We all should learn about other cultures and broaden our minds by traveling around the world. We need to develop a meaningful, mutual relationship with persons from another race so that we can view them as human beings just like us. Positive interactions can help us to get to know persons from different backgrounds change our views in life and start to develop some form of empathy. We need not let stereotypes control our thoughts. We must eliminate the senseless biases in ourselves. The Bahamian government must implement gender pay equality. Gender inequality must also change in the workplace. All businesses must educate their employees on gender and racial stereotypes. I interviewed a few random persons about how can we eliminate gender and racial stereotypes in our society and everyone came to one conclusion that we should give everyone a chance to get to know them and find out whom they are before casting judgments. We should also teach our kids at an early age how to love one another regardless of race and gender. I can state more reasons as to how we can eliminate gender and racial stereotypes but sadly based on the results from the survey that I have conducted, stereotypes are very difficult to change because it has become an integral and important part of our lives.
- Aboud, F. E.-B. (1996). Parental and peer influences on children’s racial attitudes. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20, 371-383.
- Bielby, W. T. (2000). Minimizing Workplace Gender and Racial Bias. Contemporary Sociology, 120-129.
- Fielding, W. J. (2008). The Stigma of Being “Haitian” in The Bahamas. The College of The Bahamas Research Journal, 14; 38-50.
- Grewal, D. (2010, November 26). Reducing the impact of negative stereotypes on the careers of minority and women scientists. Retrieved from Sciencemag.org
- Website: https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2010/11/reducing-impact-negative-stereotypes-careers-minority-and-women-scientists
- Sherman, Z. (2016, May 14). LGBT lives matter. Retrieved from The Tribune: http://www.tribune242.com/news/2016/may/18/lgbt-lives-matter/
- Sykes, T. (2012, October 9). The stereotypical Bahamas. Retrieved from The Highland echo Website: http://highlandecho.com/stereotypical-bahamas/
- Turnquest, A. (2014, March 24). Bahamians given asylum in Canada. Retrieved from The Tribune Website: http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/mar/24/bahamians-given-asylum-canada/
- Turnquest, A. (2018, November 26). Equal Pay? Not If You’Re Women: 30% Gender Pay Gap Exposed In Un Global Study. Retrieved from The Tribune 242 Website: http://www.tribune242.com/news/2018/nov/27/equal-pay-not-if-youre-women-30-gender-pay-gap-exp/