While we live in a world in which political correctness seems like a sad way of life, and the right to be offended is exercised with extreme frequency and militancy, anyone with a sense of humor has become a target. "Stereotypes serve a great purpose; saving us all the time of getting to know one another" is a phrase that while witty, earns a dirty look from plenty of people. I'm willing to bet that just the title of this article sent plenty of potential readers fleeing back into their neo-commie study halls to lament the state of the world. I'd say I'm sorry, but that would be a lie.
In fact, there are some stereotypes that are true, and while there are plenty that are spoken to damage a person or community, these others can be backed up with scientific and sociological facts.
Obviously, this is difficult territory through which to tread and despite my sarcasm (and the fact that I find talk of stereotypes very funny), I will keep this as peaceful and objective as possible, while demonstrating that not all stereotypes are nonsense and simply hurtful generalizations.
10 Irish People Drink Tons of Beer
This can be broken down into two sub-stereotypes. The first is that as the title reads, Irish people love their beer. This is plain and simple, but some may interpret this to mean "Irish people are drunks", which is very untrue.
Depending on the year, Ireland generally ranks in the top ten worldwide, with regard to countries in beer drinking per capita; essentially amount of beer consumed in a year per person. But the high number is by no means an indication of a national drinking problem. Rather it shows that having a few pints throughout the day is a normal way of life.
Lunch time will often involve a pint, as will the end of the work day and then one or two with dinner and another after. This isn't a universal truth, and plenty of Irish people drink more or less, but for a wide proportion of the country, several beers over the course of the day is normal. With all of this said, there is some concern among the Irish government with regard to binge drinking, especially among the youths.
9 African-Americans Are Athletic
This one is plain and simple, black Americans are disproportionately represented in the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and in Olympic competition.
Looking to the NFL, approximately 68% of the league is Black, with the vast majority of dominant "skill position" players, such as running backs, wide receivers and defensive backs, being African American as well. Nearly 80% of NBA players are Black and looking to the Olympics, track and field is often dominated by people of black ancestry. The Winter Olympics is a slightly different story, but overall, in the sports discussed, African Americans, who represent about 12% of the overall population of the United States dominate the worlds of track and field, football and basketball, which are among the most physically demanding competitions out there.
8 Asian-Americans Excel Academically
This stereotype can be misleading, and often people may try to claim "they were just born that way", but this is not so. Plain and simple: public schools require little more than a small amount of effort in order to excel. Asian-Americans put in that effort statistically more than their fellow students of other ethnicities.
Over half of all people over 25 years of age who identify as Asian in the United States also possess a bachelor's degree or higher level of education. Over 20% of Asian people over 25 have advanced degrees (above bachelor's), which compares to just over 10% of the overall population of the United States. While standardized testing is a frequent target for criticism these days, the ACT (American College Test) evaluates high school achievement and roughly estimates who is most ready for college and a career. Asians average a higher score than every other racial group year after year.
Is this some sort of genetic predisposition toward achievement or something they put in their food? No, many who study education and demographic patterns point to parenting. Rather than seeing education as a route to a job and a paycheck, many Asian students have been raised to see that education is an important part of achieving a well-rounded and purposeful life, in addition to a decent job. Pacific Standard magazine has argued that students of Asian backgrounds see education and studying as an ongoing journey to self-improvement, which is considered a deeply ingrained teaching from Confucian principles. If you don't buy that "ancient Asian philosophy" story, look at it this way: Asian parents tell their kids to study. They study, and the results are in the degrees and the fact that Asians have the highest median income of any racial group in the United States.
7 Canadians: "Eh" and "Sorry"
Yes, Canadian is a nation group and not an ethnicity and there is some ambiguity about whether a national group can be considered an ethnicity, but that's besides the point. Canada uses these two words so much that there are articles in the newspaper about it.
"Sorry" is said when you bump into someone, when you can't hear someone, or when someone bumps into you. While "sorry" for some is an occasional apology word for most people, Canadians use it as a regular method of ensuring that every conversation is a pleasant and non-confrontational one. In that respect, it is overused, and one of the main reasons people think Canadians are incredibly polite. "Sorry" is seldom sincere however, and at this point, it's little more than a national habit. "Eh" is said even more constantly and is sometimes present in every sentence of an exchange. It is pronounced like the letter "a" but is used as a method to determine agreement. Examples include "that was a great game last night, eh?" and "wow the Leafs sure can't play this year, eh?"
6 Germans and Racism
This one goes back to World War Two and while there are plenty of Germans who embrace different races and ethnicities, there is still plenty of xenophobia and racism in the country. This distrust and even hatred may not be universal but Germans of all ages and economic backgrounds are still known for harboring prejudice. While it was long considered to be the work of primarily right wing parties and groups, the current strain of racism in Germany is present across society. That admission was made by the German government to the UN just a few months ago with regard to some recent attacks against Muslims.
While some argue that recently, anti-racism protesters have been as numerous as those marching with PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), this group still has plenty of momentum and there are still examples of bungled investigations of murdered foreigners, on top of the reality that legal help and housing are difficult to obtain for Muslim immigrants.
5 India and Hygiene
One of the most popular (and unfortunate) stereotypes regarding Indians is that they have some of the worst personal hygiene on the face of the Earth. It has nothing to do with their willingness to clean however, and more to do with the lack of cleanliness standards in some of the poorer parts of the country. Even in parts of the country that are fast becoming developed, there are still serious problems with public sanitation and water treatment facilities, which are ineffective and in some cases, non-existent. This could be a problem for any country however. Take away the regulations for water treatment in any developed country and a hygiene problem will not be far behind.
Some practices such as open defecation (which is the act of defecating anywhere that does not lead to a sewage system), is rampant throughout much of the country in which toilets are unavailable. This basically means that rivers become septic systems and this is one example of a practice that can lead to serious infectious diseases. The Indian government has noted these problems and is taking steps to improve public health throughout the country. Efforts are slow however; think about it, it's a country of a billion people that is still in the process of developing.
4 Jewish People Are Good With Money
Look around the internet and you will quickly be able to find plenty of people out there who believe in some kind of Jewish conspiracy. These ideas take many forms, from Jews controlling the world, to the media, to the money supply, but at the end of the day, they all boil down to a mistaken belief that Jewish people are the puppet masters of society.
Looking at this from a statistical point of view, Jewish people in the United States do seem to have a disproportionate amount of money. Some argue that this is due to greed or one of those pesky conspiracy theories. Not looking at the why but simply the numbers: 46% of people who identify as Jewish earned over $100,000 per year in the United States. The overall population number is 18%. With regard to the country's wealthiest people, there are nearly 100 Jewish billionaires in the top 400 richest Americans. Impressive for a group that accounts for about 2% of the population.
To those who argue that greed and manipulation have something to do with this phenomenon, that is nonsense, and it may be time to learn about Jewish communities. They are among the most tight-knit groups out there and many community groups focus on education, hard work and entrepreneurship.
3 Russians Drink Obscene Amounts of Vodka
Obviously, like any stereotype out there, exceptions to the rule exist. There are poor people of the Jewish faith, and plenty of African Americans can't dunk or throw a football. I have met a Russian gentleman who did not drink, but looking at the stats, he is an absolute anomaly.
The fall of communism had an impact on drinking levels. Many in the country had enjoyed alcohol prior to the 90s, but sale and production were heavily regulated. With the demise of the Soviet Union, consumption skyrocketed, and in recent years it has been suggested that Russian men drink several times what people in other countries do, and are several times more likely to die from drinking related causes. The life expectancy for Russian men is around early 60's, which is over ten years younger than other developed countries. Vodka is just a part of the culture and while it is often celebrated, the national pastime in Russia seems to be drinking oneself to death.
2 Native Americans Cannot Handle Alcohol
This is an area where one must thread very lightly. There is a stereotype of this nature and it is based in truth. Native Americans do in fact have trouble with alcohol. This is not to say anything denigrating to their character or their humanity, but literally speaking they process alcohol differently from other ethnicities, which has led to a serious problem.
Essentially, scientists have hypothesized that many (not all) groups of Native Americans lack or have imperfect proportions of certain enzymes such as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which generally assist in the metabolism of alcohol. On top of helping to break down alcohol in the system, these enzymes are also known to assist with avoiding dependence. While there is still some debate among geneticists studying the topic over the exact cause, many agree that genetics play a significant role in the lack of tolerance and the development of dependencies.
Note: It should be understood that there is significant genetic variation among different groups under the umbrella term "Native American", and researchers have discovered that some of these bands can process alcohol properly. There are also circumstances that have led to the stereotype of Native Americans being heavy drinkers. These include feelings of powerlessness and isolation for those who live on reserves, which have led to higher than average levels of consumption.
1 Americans Really Do Love Their Guns
Forgive me for the fact that much like my example about Canadians, this is an article about ethnic stereotypes, and "American" is technically a nationality, but let's just move past it. Americans own the most guns per person of any country on Earth. Smallarmssurvey.org published findings for over 170 countries, and the United States has roughly 88 weapons for every hundred people. No other country comes close, as numbers two and three are Yemen and Switzerland, which are around 55% and 54%.
Whether it is for hunting, target practice, or just taking pictures and looking tough, there are plenty of guns and gun enthusiasts in the United States. While the United States' fondness for guns is often criticized due to their high level of gun violence, there are good reasons to own a firearm. In short, the United States was founded by a group of people who hated large, oppressive governments. They claimed that firearms were a way in which small communities and individuals could protect themselves from government abuse. Most of the developed world has been indoctrinated to see their government as a benevolent entity due to "services" and supposed security, so gradually citizens are giving up their ability to protect themselves, and forgetting the fact that eventually, if you do anything marginally wrong, your government may well come after you and destroy your life.
Along with distrust of government, personal responsibility is a widely held belief in the United States, and many do not forget that it takes cops a few precious minutes to show up. These are minutes that can mean the difference between a dead citizen and a dead criminal. While the stereotype of the American as a gun-toting maniac is a popular one, often used for humor, it is relatively accurate and based in a historic distrust in government that is fairly sensible.