Yesterday in class we talked about the “Patio Six,” a group of African Americans employees who protested their bosses’ method advertisement for his restaurant. This method was paying an elderly black woman, Mrs. Keyes, to dress in stereotypical ‘mammy’ clothing outside the restaurant and ring a bell to lure people passing by to the restaurant. The restaurant was also decorated in a racist manner with a mammy doll. The workers informed their boss that they were offended and chose to leave the establishment. Their former boss then called the police on them, claiming that they were disturbing the peace. The workers were upset by the blatant racism and stereotyping that was shown through costume Mrs. Keyes wore and the mammy doll sitting in the establishment’s window. Unfortunately, the problem of racial stereotyping still lingers in our society today, and is especially prevalent in the movie industry.
Dev Patel, the actor who played Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire, has been quoted complaining about the types of roles that have been offered to him, which include nerdy sidekick, goofy Indian and terrorist. This complaint is similar to the ‘Patio Six”’s, because they were both tired of racial profiling. There are many other stereotypical roles that Hollywood continually resorts to. Since September 11th, the villains in films always seem to be Middle Eastern terrorists. Being Middle Eastern, I am offended by this role. The general public’s idea of Middle Eastern culture, especially the role of males in it, has become skewed by movies like ‘Taken’. I even considered Sex and the City 2 offensive because of the Middle Eastern stereotypes that were played into and the disrespect paid to my heritage.The more frequently these stereotypes appear in the media, the more willing people are to consider them the truth. In high school I had to deal with ignorant peers who would ask questions like if I owned a rocket launcher. One boy even had the nerve to come up to me the day Osama bin Laden was captured and tell me “he was sorry my uncle was in jail”.
There are many forms of media that feed into stereotypes and if there was an active effort to rid themselves of these images, then perhaps we could work towards a country where the ideas are understood as a false delusion of the past.