Theory & Essay

Generalize This.

Protect your nuts.

One of the most interesting facets of being an internet talking head, especially in the relationship realm, is how often people get their panties in a bunch about generalizations. Now, I’m not sure if it’s because people aren’t sure that we don’t know better or because people just like to point out that everybody isn’t XYZ. Whoopty whoop whoopty whoop whoop.

Here’s the long and short of it: I both know that everybody isn’t one way or another. But I also talk to too many people at once to NOT generalize. Also, I tend to assume that most of the reading populace is smart enough to grasp the concept that I don’t need to put “some” in front of every generalized statement in order to play fair. Well, the reading populace here anyway.

But here’s another issue that I take with being called out on generalizations (and to be real, and rude as this is going to come off, I generally don’t give a f*ck): none of us motherf*ckers are really that special anyway. People don’t like generalizations because they’re too easy. They paint everybody with a broad brush. We’re not all the same. Yes. I know. But the larger your sample of individuals (like say, “women” “men” “Black people” “white people” “ninjas”, etc) the closer you get to an average baseline. The fact is, while you, the specific individual, may not be a nag, in general, a preponderance of women are.

While you, hombre, may not be the inconsiderate, selfish f*ck that men are painted as, there is a huge majority of men who are. Period.

Then there’s this other game that both men and women run when being talked about in a negative fashion: “none of my friends are like that” or “I know more people who aren’t like xyz than are like 123″.

Bull malarkey. We don’t believe you, you need more people. Show and prove. All I do is spark mad izms. While we do tend to exaggerate at times (obviously) the truth is that most people are speaking from personal experience. And somebody like myself who has made it a point to try to do the best I can to observe human behavior (almost to a fault) the generalizations that get made aren’t THAT off base, if at all. Same with stereotypes. I f*cking love stereotypes. Hell, in some instances I attempt to BE the stereotype. You want a n*gga to show up? I’ll be that. If you expect it, allow me to be it.

But people hate those too. And I’ve never understood why folks got so up in arms. Stereotypes are rooted in truth. Now, I understand that most have a pejorative nature to them and since they tend to be generalizations about large groups, nobody wants to be lumped in with that group.

But that’s because you people all want to be special. We have worked so hard individually to NOT be that stereotype that we want to move far from it. Hell, some of you right now are ashamed of your hood family because they fit every stereotype known to man, but because you don’t, you don’t like stereotypes and prefer that they don’t get used.

Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit.

Also ran…why don’t folks come down on comedians for their rampant need to use generalizations and stereotypes as as means of social discovery and exploration. Hell, that’s effectively what we do here. And even on sites that are less comedic so to speak, unless you take a larger aim at a subject there’s no discussion to be had. If every time I wrote something I said, Some of You Slob Knobs For Fun But Most Of You Don’t (not true anyway), there’s no discussion or debate to be had. Because there’s nothing to argue. It’s statistically accurate and damn near teflon to dissect.

I honestly think that the only way race relations in this country will get better is if Black folks and white folks sat down at a table and put all of the generalizations and stereotypes on the table as discussion points. That’s how you move forward. The only way you can get past the surface level misunderstandings is to discuss what they are in the first place. Which are generalizations. And stereotypes. Once you get past that point, sure, you can do away with them.

But that’s also a one-on-one thing. And we ain’t there yet. And at the end of the day, most of us have encountered more generalizations than outliers and exceptions to the rule anyway. So while I understand the beef with generalizations, I also think that getting upset about them does more of a disservice than discussing the circumstances around how we even got there in the first place.

All men are dogs? Yep. Now here’s why and here’s where you’re wrong.

All women are insane? Yep. Now here’s why and here’s where you’re wrong.

All Black people are criminals? Wait..what?

All white people smell like wet dogs? Um. What?

Sometimes you have to just put sh*t out there in order to get the debate going. Plus, a ninja like me? I’m the arsonist. I arson sh*t. But at the end of the day there’s a discussion to be had. Hate or love me at the beginning or end of it doesn’t change the fact that the discussion needs to happen does it?

Good people of VSB, what say you? Do generalizations and stereotypes have any place in discussions and debates or are they a detriment to true progress?

Talk to me.

Petey.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka DAT N*GGA aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • maimusings

    Who peed in your milk Panama?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      nobody peed in my milk. lol. that’s funny though. i just figured that id ask a few questions b/c both on and off line i’ve had beaucoup convos about generalizations. and speaking of which you didnt answer the question.

      • GypsyCurl

        I think yesterday’s comments were the straw(s) that broke PJ’s back. So, you set the record straight.

        I agree with you PJ. It is hard to have a dialogue when the only refute is “You can’t generalize all people”…Then they stick their tongue out like a five year old.

        • http://www.shay-d-lady.com shay-d-lady

          Dayum..what did I miss yesterday?

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            I’m wondering what I missed yesterday too? LOL. this stemmed from a Twitter convo that wasn’t even bad.

      • http://maimusingsinhaiti.blogspot.com maimusings

        Lol, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Generalizations and stereotypes are rooted in truth. Of course there are exceptions but studies have shown (mostly anecdotal), if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then ladies and gentlemen it’s a ________. But if it makes you feel better to think you’re so different then by all means continue doing so.

  • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

    And just in case anybody does come in here thinking I’m mad since my sh*t is more John Blaze, I’m really not. But I do wonder how folks really feel about generalizations, especially given what we do ’round these parts. I mean the post itself was inspired by a Twitter convo that didn’t make me upset or anything. In fact, the person who started the convo @justlissen made valid points.

    But I’m not a boxer. I’m a runner. Cool runnings.

    So don’t worry, nobody pissed in my wheaties, milk, or the snow and tried to sell me lemonade. I’m just a brotha with something on his mind.

    • Angel Baby

      PJ,

      This is actually one of the best posts I think you’ve written. Granted, I’ve probably been reading the blog (& recently posting)for a shorter duration than most; but this is my favorite from YOU! You better speak on it man! lol

      Great concept:
      “So while I understand the beef with generalizations, I also think that getting upset about them does more of a disservice than discussing the circumstances around how we even got there in the first place.

      All men are dogs? Yep. Now here’s why and here’s where you’re wrong.

      All women are insane? Yep. Now here’s why and here’s where you’re wrong.

      All Black people are criminals? Wait..what?

      All white people smell like wet dogs? Um. What?”

      • Angel Baby

        No, I don’t understand why moderation is needed to most of the things I write… ah well!

        • nillalatte

          Don’t feel rained on. They lock me up all the time, tie me down and beat me. Then my comment gets released to the public. I want to play in burning the house down too, but they won’t let me be great! :'(

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

            so you don’t like that treatment??

            • nillalatte

              Only when you do it Petey. ;) Something about you just gives me chills. LOL

  • http://uphereoncloud9.wordpress.com Wu Young, Agent of M.E.

    In everyday conversations or when I’m joking around I don’t mind a good stereotype. (Germans are scary for instance.) but in debates that actually matter (or matter to me) I don’t find stereotypes or generalizations helpful. Often funny but not helpful.

    In my opinion if the debate is about something serious stereotypes affirm fears or janky ideas or fears (“Call me Harold!”) and generalizations are employed when none of those pesky facts aren’t around.

    Overall if the topic is worth giving a damn about then they only deter from actual dialog.

    • Todd

      I see where you’re coming from with the fears and bad ideas being based in stereotypes. However, that’s why they need to be out there in deep discussions. If you don’t know where someone is starting, how the heck can you lead them where you ultimately want them to be?

      • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

        Yeah, I feel the same way. You got to know how people really feel upfront to tear down all of the issues.

    • http://maimusingsinhaiti.blogspot.com maimusings

      I think I could handle the stereotypes and generalizations if the subject matter starts off light but if it gets really heavy then it’s time for me to get out of dodge because the person has probably been holding onto his issues way too long and I refuse to be your conduit for why black/Haitian/women do xyz.

  • Malik

    Generally speaking, it depends on what the conversation is about to know if generalizations have a place in the discussion. If we’re talking about a culture, then generalizations are terrible for the conversations and don’t help it progress anywhere because the people resting on them aren’t attempting to gain any understand on the subject at hand. You’re just basically searching for confirmation bias.

    I’d say the biggest problem with generalizations isn’t the inherent nature of them, but the fact that a lot of people don’t particularly define what we’re supposed to focusing on. For example, if we were to discuss whether or not ‘god’ exists with people who aren’t part of the Abraham belief systems, we would first have to define what IS ‘god’ in the first place. Without that, the conversation is going to be extremely aimless and unproductive.

    It can be particularly annoying when you have two opposite view points arguing from two opposite perspectives (i.e. relationship blogs). Both sides assume we’re working with the same definitions on things when we are in fact not and no one wants to figure that out until they get emotionally embedded in whatever position they started out on.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      I do agree with you there regarding relationships. However, I also think that most folks get overly emotionally invested from the beginning anyway, especially b/c the entire convo is subjective and based upon a person’s experience. I think that’s the beauty/pain of the convos, folks feel how they feel and rarely are they going to change their opinion. 100 exceptions is just 100 exceptions, doesnt mean the rule is wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/HumanSpiderACNJ The Human Spider

    Yeah…I think that the stereotype thing gets overblown anywhere that is not a comedy club. I try to crack humor around the workplace (a stock room that doubles as a break room), and the results are less than stellar (but I got a weird brand o’ humor).

    But a sit down is definitely needed, because if I get anymore funny looks from my race because I’m eating chicken fingers with grape soda…

    • LadyC

      Yeah, I made a couple black jokes too when I was new at my job just bc they kept saying “African-American” and everything was overly polite. I’m too relaxed for all that!

      I just can’t eat chicken in a non-black establishment. Ever ;)

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      LMAO. You know, I’ve always felt like we made the stereotypes present when other folks weren’t thinking about them. LIke if a Black person is eating chicken…are white folks looking at you b/c your a ninja eating chicken…or cuz they want some of that Popeyes.

  • Iamnotakata

    I think I wrote this article maybe? Lol I swear I’ve had this type of conversation with my bestfriend so many times!!!…. Stereotypes do originate from somewhere albeit not specific to each individual….or even identifiable to you….they are true!!!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      word booty.

  • LSQ

    Generalizing can be useful and hurtful at the same time. For the most part, most humans do behave the same – but we like to think we are so different. This should not be shocking: our behavior is passed down to us (parents), and chosen by us (adolescent need to belong), and only later on in life do we realize that half the cr@p that we do – is actually for no good reason. Then the fun begins!

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      Then you can really get wild. That’s why old people don’t give a crap and drive slow.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        LOL Yes!

        If we are smart, we won’t wait until we are old to HUG LIFE

    • http://www.todisspits.blogspot.com MicTheMessenger

      Man, i think i just got to this point about a month ago. And it feels GREAT.

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        +1

  • LadyC

    Stereotypes oftentimes are true and that’s why they’re funny! And let’s be real, you can tell when it’s in jest or someone trying to really work a nerve. Nobody does it better than Lisa Lampanelli!http://youtu.be/Fa67iIdpk4k
    If homosexual, hit the 2:00min mark

    • griffdamagician

      i think that stereotypes and generalizations have a place in all discussions because that are an integral part of human behavior. I mean think about it, imagine how slow we would be if we didn’t recognize patterns and similarities and modify our actions accordingly. sure we will be wrong sometimes, he’ll, maybe half the time but in the realm of self preservation we will take those odds

  • carolinagirl27

    I don’t really mind generalizations if they are made if fun but I do mind when they are made out of ignorance/hate.

    For instance…

    My friends always joke about being late because we run on CP time all the time.

    but…

    If a person makes a comment about a late black person like “See, black people are always late because they are inconsiderate assholes” …this comment is a problem…

    So, used in jokes its all good as long as it’s known that it’s a JOKE.

    • TeeNikki

      I agree with that distinction.

  • nillalatte

    “All Black people are criminals? Wait..what?
    All white people smell like wet dogs? Um. What?”

    LOL… so I’m curious Petey, since you’re biracial… are you a criminal wet dog or a wet dog criminal? LMAO! That just hit me funny. No offense intended.

    I love, tell you LOVE generalizations! They’re fun. Of course, when I am writing/talking with folks (here and elsewhere) in a serious convo I try to be aware of NOT using generalizations because I know that not ALL individuals represent every single other person of the same race, culture, etc.

    But, have fun with it? Hell yeah. As I said before, I’m an equal opportunity offender. I talk about Asian stereotypes to Asians. Mexican stereotypes to Mexican’s and so on. I recently made fun of my Asian male friend. He makes fun of Asian FOB’s and talks like he’s ESL.

    Once, he told me about ordering Kung Pao and the Asian server asked him if he wanted peanus on his Kung Pao. The more he said it the more I envisioned this huge ‘peanus’ on top of a bed a rice! I died.

    One night recently I inadvertently ordered Kung Pao and took it home. I opened the container and saw nothing but peanuts on the top of my plate and could not eat the dish! I text him and said, “OMG, they put peanus on my Kung Pao and now I can’t eat it!”

    He text back, “I hope the size of the peanus is not what made you think of me.” OH, now, why did he go there?! He knows how I am. I text back, “Nah, I never think of you when I think of peanus. Besides we know from various sources that Asian men have micro peanus issues. ROTFLMAO!” :D

    I told a black male friend of mine what I text and HE got offended and said, “Why you wanna talk about his manhood like that?!” LOL Men and their peanuses. LOL

    Arabs… a whole nother story of generalizations. OMG… I can’t even tell you the number of times I have had to try to explain Arab culture to white and black people that looked at me like “What is wrong with this girl that she would jump those tracks?!”

    Hit me up anytime with some generalizations. I got thick skin. Plus when folks tell me I smell like wet dog, well, hell, maybe I do to them. We all have scents that are either pleasing or repulsive. ;)

    • nillalatte

      Release me! waaa…waaa…

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com Panama Jackson

      LOL… so I’m curious Petey, since you’re biracial… are you a criminal wet dog or a wet dog criminal? LMAO! That just hit me funny. No offense intended.

      i think i’m neither. i just kill the cat.

      *RIMSHOT*

      and you knwo i dont get offended easy. or at all. i like offensive stuff, it levels the playing field.

      • nillalatte

        Cats have nine lives dear. Ha! I don’t think I’ve used up all mine yet. Still have to train a few cubs. :P

    • Justmetheguy

      I’m with Nillalette- I roast EVERY race! Especially ninjas and honkies lol. Asians are DEFINITELY the most fun to laugh at though. They just never stop bringing me material! rotflmao! I crack the h*ll up just thinking of them lolol. Especially cause they normally make you laugh the most without trying! Black folks seem to at least understand and appreciate how ridiculous and often unintentionally hilarious they can be, but Asians take themselves so serious while none of us can (not as long as their trying to speak English). But I have no good Arab stereotypes. I don’t know enough of em. Share with me please lol. Even though they seem so no-non-sense that they might behead me for any perceived disrespect so I can’t promise that I’ll use the jokes you give me lol

      • nillalatte

        You’re probably aware of them, but I got this from wikipedia:

        “Arab Muslims (read: men) are fanatics who believe in a different god, who don’t value human life as much as we do, they are intent on destroying us (the west) with their oil or with their terrorism; the men seek to abduct and brutally seduce our women; they are without family and reside in a primitive place (the desert) and behave like primitive beings. The women are subservient — resembling black crows — or we see them portrayed as mute, somewhat exotic harem maidens.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_Arabs_and_Muslims

        This was interesting tho: “In a poll conducted by the Boston Globe, 71 percent of Blacks and 57 percent of Whites believed that “Arabs and Arab-Americans should undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes.” Really? Black folks are more scurred of Arabs than white folks? Now that is just amusing to me.

        Now, we can talk about what sect of Islam believes what, but that’s a long arse convo. Re: valuing human life… yeah, they do. Ever seen all the crying and slapping of themselves in mourning on television at the loss of a loved one? I could continue on, but obviously these stereotypes are only meant to instill fear of another people, culture, religion.

        Generally, they are fun people to be around and most of the Arabs I know have a wonderful sense of humor and play practical jokes on each other constantly.

        • A Woman’s Eyes

          Word, Nilla.

      • nillalatte

        Tell me something… where in the hell did the word honkie come from anyway? I mean, cracker, I get (now). Used to had no clue that was supposed to be offensive. Still doesn’t bother me none. But, honkie? I have this mental picture of a clown with a horn. *shrugs*

        • TeeNikki

          *sidebar*

          I hate statistics. H.A.T.E. once you study statistics, the hate overcomes you immediately and automatically. “They” present these percentages in such a way that it seems like it’s really a percentage of ALL, but it’s usually only a very small sample size, like 1,000 or so. Plus, in the example given, say there were only 7 ninjas and 993 crackers, those percentages become trash.

          #randomvent

        • http://www.insaneasylumblog.com The Insane Asylum (Mr. Chap)

          lol! Honkie was probably the best-sounding insult of a name we could come up with at the time after being called n*gger for so long.

          “Well eff you, you…you…HONKIE”

          You just have to say it with extra emphasis to make it sound more bad-ass.

          I love how white people play along with being offended at the name.

    • http://www.ifiruled2011.wordpress.com Mahogany Princess

      “LOL… so I’m curious Petey, since you’re biracial… are you a criminal wet dog or a wet dog criminal? LMAO! That just hit me funny. No offense intended.”

      Wow lmao