At a recent workshop for adoptees, there was a discussion on the subject of stereotypes. Many of the 10- to 14-year-olds in attendance were unfamiliar with
the term. But when examples of Asian stereotypes were listed—math club geek, China doll, kung-fu fighter, laundry worker, rice eater, and so on—they all began to giggle with recognition.
Old martial arts movies, as well as today's mainstream media, had filled their minds — and those of their schoolmates — with a narrow array of characters that defined Asians. The kids knew all too well the nicknames, assumptions, and expectations that were put on them based on their physical and racial features.
As parents, we want our children to be aware of racial stereotypes, but not feel defined or restricted by them. We want to encourage their individuality. Here are some ways to begin.
The article gives a number of good suggestions for dealing with stereotyping, and includes some responses kids can give when asked questions based on stereotype, like "Does your family eat rice every night?"