As we strive towards fostering a culture of inclusivity I encourage everyone to feel empowered to discuss the topic of stereotypes, because when facing a pre-conceived notion regarding your gender identity, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background, everyone deserves to have access to equal opportunities while being valued for their individuality.
Unpacking stereotypes can be a challenging process as it is a nuanced conversation. Perhaps you may be suspecting that someone may be imposing an unfair opinion onto you, or perhaps you’re certain but aren’t quite sure on what next steps to take next. To help you feel supported, I wanted to share with you some tips that I’ve utilized while navigating moments where I have experienced self doubt or supposed doubt from others.
Tip #1: Acknowledge your talent. Academic or artistic, an individual’s stereotypical ideas will never invalidate your abilities! One way I love being acknowledged is by surrounding myself with great friends who always root for my success. If you ever suspect that a person you know doesn’t have your best interest at heart, it is perfectly acceptable to create a boundary between you both.
“Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming.”
– André De Shields, 2019 Tony Awards Acceptance Speech
Tip #2: Consider the contexts. Many individuals we observe being exceptionally awarded for their achievements in both the media and in history have benefitted from the aid of generational wealth and sociological privileges. This is particularly crucial to consider in moments where comparison may be tempting. Comparison is a part of human nature, but the truth is that some people have access to resources and privileges that others do not. These privileges have everything to do with the need for systematic and social reform, and absolutely nothing to do with your potential to achieve greatness!
Tip #3: Put Yourself First. I like to say that one should treat their energy like a financially literate person would treat their money, never spent frivolously and always invested in yourself. You have a choice in whether you want to engage with someone who has an incorrect assumption of you, or step away if you feel like that is what’s best for you in that given moment. Both are valid decisions as you are never obligated to feel responsible for another individual’s choices.
Tip #4: Work on Personal Biases. From my personal experience, I’ve realized that reflecting upon my own biases has equipped me to feel more prepared when confronted by other people’s biases. Reflection gave me the opportunity to remind myself that not all ideas are rooted in truth and it taught me how to foster empathy towards not only others, but for myself as well. Also, it feels really good to let go of biases! Many biases I’ve caught myself having were learned from negative experiences I had gone through in my life. Confronting these ways of thinking helped me heal from those experiences in a way that has become a very influential part of allowing me to live a healthier and fuller life.
“When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a type of paradise.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2009 TED Speech
Tip #5: Reach out for support when you need it. Reaching out is a skill most people are expected to know, yet it is never explicitly taught to us. I understand that sometimes reaching out may feel intimidating because of the fear that you’re expectations may not be met, but there is an abundant community who is eager to help you. The University of Cincinnati offers resources for all students such as;
University Health Services at 513.556.2564
University Counseling & Psychological Services at 513.556.0648
Equity & Inclusion Services at 513.556.8463
Accessibility Services at 513-556-6823
The LGBTQ Center at 513.556.4329
And The Women’s Center at 513.556.4401
I among many other students here at UC am passionate about ensuring that you feel advocated for, and we encourage you to seek support if you feel that it could be beneficial to you in any way. Support can even look like reaching out to a trusted friend, or a close relative!
“When you fall in love, what is there to compromise about? I fell in love with myself, I want someone to share me with me.”
-Eartha Kitt, “The Eartha Kitt Story” 1982 Documentary