Broad Brush Victims

There is nothing like a good stereotype. Am I right? You know, like how…

  • Black people love fried chicken and Koolaid.
  • Asians are good at math.
  • Jews are penny pinchers.
  • White guys are nerds or hicks.
  • Christians are horrible tippers.
  • Muslim guys beat their wives.

There are a million stereotypes for religion, ethnicity, economic status, and gender. Stereotypes are pure gold for stand up comedians and social commentators. This is how we relate with the world around us. We may not give voice to the ridiculous examples above, but we are all guilty of dividing people on some level.

I will admit, I see the humor in some stereotypes. I have an Asian friend who lovingly calls me halfbreed, and I mimic her accent and laugh at her grammar.

Neither of us has malicious intentions, but I can only imagine what some outside listeners must think.

The truth is, racism is still very much alive. Slavery still thrives, even inside the states. Hatred between people groups has not subsided; often it just hides behind “political correctness.”

Society has advanced and many of the cultural divides have been removed, but we still have a long trip uphill.

Religion and politics is the topic of the day. Tolerance is the word on trial. One group calls another intolerant for holding certain beliefs, and vice versa.

In my opinion, we are turning each other into what rapper and poet, Propaganda calls Broad Brush Victims.

Often unintentionally, we make assumptions about a multitude based on the realities of a few. This is foolish.

  • Not all Atheists are miserable cynics who feel empty and alone.
  • Not all Christians are judgmental and close-minded.
  • Not all gay people were molested or neglected as children.
  • Not all Muslims seek the destruction of America or democracy.
  • Not all low income families are lazy or uneducated.

When we paint people with a broad brush we miss opportunities for powerful relationships. Sure, some people fit perfectly into the stereotypes created for them, but they do not represent the whole.

I know women that clutch their purses tightly when black men walk by, as if every African-American male is unable to control himself around white lady money. I know men who would rather die than share a public restroom with a homosexual, because who hasn’t heard about all the straight men being attacked in bathroom stalls? (Come on.)

This has to stop. I hate being painted into a corner because of my faith, race, and value system. It frustrates me to see Christians bashed in the media. What right do I have to then treat others with equal contempt?

The book I build my life around is clear on this: Love your neighbor as yourself.

I am called to love whoever moves in next door. I don’t have to agree with wrongdoing. I don’t have to support their agenda, but when I make snap judgments about people, I marginalize them and destroy opportunities for meaningful exchange.

People are complex, no two exactly the same. We are a nuanced bunch of flesh. If we never take the time to push through the stereotypes we will never know the beauty of diverse community.

I want everyone to know the God that I call Savior. I truly believe He is the hope of humanity. I believe there is an eternity on the back end of this fragile existence, but if I don’t take the time to get to know the people around me, to really hear them out, how can I expect them to listen to my message?

Let’s put down the wide brushes and step back from the canvas for a moment. What do you say we just sit down and talk, face to face. I’ll listen. You speak. And when you’re done, I’ll give you my perspective. Who knows, we might learn something.

Have you ever painted someone with a broad brush? How have you been surprised by really getting to know them?

Photo Credit: Tayrawr Fortune

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