Racial Stereotyping In Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things

Decent Essays

The fear of the other and the unknown has always been a part of human history. Humans also have the inherent need to categorize things. As children, we learn to categorize with colors and shapes but as adults, these categories start to apply to humans as well. That fear and categorization combined eventually conceptualized stereotyping, including stereotyping according to race. Racial stereotypes are simplified or generalized ideas about others based on their race. Usually, these stereotypes are incredibly demeaning to the race in question, sometimes even to the point of dehumanization, and ignore the uniqueness humans have as individuals. This stereotyping then falls under the umbrella of racism. Racism and discrimination according to race …show more content…

There are also those who fall into these stereotypes, as it put such a limit on their lives, akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Despite all these negative implications, there are still people who deny this matter as problematic. This is in part is due to the fact that not everyone experiences the more damaging effects of racial stereotyping. Some are just more privileged than others in this system of race and prejudice; the privileged are then often blind to the strife of the underprivileged. That is why they can say things like Kennedy did in Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things “…Frankly, I don’t even see color. I mean, the only race that matters is the human one, right?” (195). It is easy enough for someone in Kennedy’s placement in life to say that and one can understand the sentiment behind it, but it fails to address the issue that there are definitely those who do see color and discriminate because of it. Ruth sums up the issue succinctly “It’s easy to believe we’re all in this together when you’re not the one who was dragged out of your home by the police. But I know that when white people say things like that, they are doing it because they think it’s the right thing to say, not because they realize how glib they sound” (Picoult 201). After all, if their life is fine, why worry about a problem that does not adversely affect them. Because of this, humans being free of racial stereotyping seem quite improbable. How would one solve a problem if it were not addressed as a problem in the first

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