Whistling Vivaldi : How Stereotypes Affect People

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Stereotypes are unescapable. No matter what part of the world you are at or who you are talking to, everyone has some bias. Claude Steele say’s exactly this in his book “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do” when he states “ We could all take out a piece of paper, write down the major stereotypes of these identities, and show a high degree of agreement in what we wrote.” His piece addresses the effects of stereotypes, which result in what Steele calls “stereotype threat”. Stereotype threat is being aware that there is an expected behavior or response to a certain part of your identity and being afraid to carry out this expected behavior or response. The threat of proving this stereotype can cause you to lose…show more content…
Staples does not change race, he just shows whiteness in order to avoid being stereotyped, but this causes him to associate avoidance of stereotype threat with whiteness and that in turn emphasizes his difference and strengthens the threat. Steele argues that Staples can show knowledge of white culture by whistling Vivaldi. So, when Staples is walking during dark hours in Chicago he can avoid the stereotype threat of blacks being violent by showing he has knowledge of classical music—by showing acculturation. Acculturation here can be defined as an immigrants or unfamiliar person(s) assimilation to their host culture. According to Steele and “The Potential Roles of Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, Stigma Consciousness, and Stereotype Threat in Linking Latina/a Ethnicity and Educational Outcomes”, It is often thought that acculturation and education level as connected. Steele’s argument is that by Staples showing knowledge of white culture, he is showing education. Therefore, people will view him as an educated man and educated people don’t usually attack others. So, Staples must not be dangerous. The association between acculturation and education may be true, but showing acculturation isn’t effectively fighting the cloud. On the contrary, it feeds it. Think about Staples association between white culture and being regarded as not violent. When he sees people physically relax as soon as he whistles Vivaldi it reinforces this
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