Ethnic Reputations Create Group Mentalities
What ethnic reputation do you carry throughout life? How did you get these marks of good and bad characteristics just through your ethnic group membership?
You are known by your fruits, the Bible reports. But some fruits are inherited through ancestor achievements and deeds. May not be “fair” but it is a reality. Yes, heroes and sheroes rise above reputation but most of us swim in the shallow waters of identity.
How did we get ethnic reputations? Historical accounts were often recorded through the biased lens of outsiders that generally established conceptions of other groups. Interaction with ethnic groups brought appraisals of their value. More contemporary methods are based upon encounters with individuals.
As with individuals, we interact, evaluate and determine value (positive and negative) for them and their group. We determine that they are kind, cutthroat, sly or giving. Then we confer among our group members and agree that ‘people like them’ are generally like that.
The beautiful West Side Story tale and many like it, tell of ethnic hostility per reputations and biases. Then love enters and washes away all predetermined notions of history, race, ethnicity and previous encounters. Despite this story's epic ending, the general messages should light the way to a worthy destination for humankind. The feel good fairy tale ending. Then we leave the movie house.
For those who have lived experiences through generations of distain and discrimination, the tale does not end feeling well. The costs mount and become systemic. And, resistance through consistent denial of oppressor groups serve to reinforce their “reputation” to the offended group. What is the fairy tale ending for them?
Can we overcome ethnic reputations? Common understandings demand note that every group hosts achievers and slackers. There are honest people and the corrupt, selfish takers. Overall, we throw out the outlier millionaires and desperate poor. Somewhere in the middle is the real identifier for that group. Like it or not, it is this that cloaks members for their lifetime.
Create a self-discovery test of ethnic reputations. Randomly select 10 countries around the world and assign a reputation term to each. Then explore how you determined national reputations. Take time to consider who wrote histories used for your determination. Just as important, what messages from social media have shaped your opinions.
List characteristics for these countries and ethnic groups. Which groups seek to prove something, perhaps because of embarrassing histories of colonization or unresolved ravishes to their nation? This becomes part of their group mentality, a mentality that dictates life decisions.
Consider these 'mentality' characteristics and apply each to a particular nation and ethnic group.
Loving, selfish, cold, controlling, dishonest, happy, closed, desperate, innovative, resourceful,
cheaters, needy, overcomers, proud, primitive, lawless, advanced, ‘get-over’, wanderers,
‘lost in the past’, giving.
Today, we encounter a globalization mentality. Don’t like where you are? Just move. Movement is historic to all groups to some extent. It is what groups have done to form current ethnicities? Who are the practitioners today?
Now, sit back and think about ethnic relations in the 2022 world with a more informed understanding of biases based on prejudice, historical accounts, reputations and the human nature rule to preserve what is yours and to resist change.