Welcome to BigAppleSchool podcast. This is Mike.
And today we are talking about stereotypes. So stereotypes, Vladimir . Could you define it for me, what stereotypes are?
Yes, well, stereotype is a set of images or set of beliefs that are commonly used to describe a person or a thing. And usually they are used when you describe people or a nation maybe or ethnicity, something like that.
Why do you think they exist? Do you think this is just human nature to just assume what you’ve been told by other people? Is that…? Stereotypes have been following us in the existence of all forms right. When one nations tries to somehow portray certain people in a certain way, I mean, artists do, I mean, almost always.
They have been guilty of that. You know in today’s society, the 21st century, we tend to see stereotypes as, you know, a very very bad things, you know. There are things that you shouldn’t be doing, right? So why do they exist? Why did they exist so prevalently and why do they exist so prevalently today?
So stereotypes are… I think they are inherited to human nature and it’s like according to psychologists, it’s common for people to make generalizations, so people generalize about everything, so they start doing this when they are young or even when they’re children, babies.
When their parents talk about them, just describe maybe something or then, when a child goes to school, he or she starts practicing this, just making generalizations about things and about people, about things that he or she sees around him or her.
So that’s why I think stereotypes are quite common and I would say it’s like inherited. And of course, they can be good or they can be bad. And you’re right, I agree with you mostly, we associate stereotypes with something bad, but if we talk about people, if we talk about nations, I think there are some good stereotypes, maybe you know some examples.
Oh, well, I mean, you’re saying that… I’m gonna scroll back one notch of that. So, you’re saying that this is inherited in human nature. Do you think it’s something to do with easy processing of the new things when we come across them, or new types of people when we come across them? Is this some kind of a survival mechanic that’s built into our brains?
I think so, yes, because first of all, when a person starts, let’s say, thinking about a thing or a person, first of all, and especially when we talk about something new, when a person comes across something new in his or her life, first maybe he or she tries to compare with his or her previous beliefs. Or what he or she knows about that, and that’s why this comparison leads to stereotyping.
Mmm, so you think this is something…. You know, I always kind of thought of this like a primitive way, like, so, let’s say a caveman goes out onto the woods one day and, you know, we’re all built around routines, right? So, one day he goes to a tree forest that he’s been to a thousand times, to go hunting.
And he comes across a group of humans that he had never seen before, right? And they’ve got a different skin color, they look different, they speak a different language. They’ve got different tools and the equipment.
You know, I have a feeling that this is something sort of inborn mechanic stereotyping to help us sort of deal with those situations, that are out of routine. Because, you know, people freak out when they’re thrown out of routine. And you can see this with coronavirus at the moment.
People have been thrown out of routine, so they are freaking out around the world. I mean, Russians are taking this really well actually. Right?
But I was talking to a friend of mine in Australia, and she was telling me how just people around her have psychologically changed over this. Right? So for example, she lives with her partner and two other flatmates, classmates. And they live in a house.
And one of her housemates just went a little bit crazy, and she started controlling everything. And she would say, you know, if there’s a sofa in a living room, she would designate one spot, and only she can sit there, and if anybody sits there she would scream and yell at people. And there is like a garage.
There are three cars at the household, and there’s a garage, and only she can use the garage doors and nobody else, right? That’s one example. The other example is her father started becoming very controlling. He would come out every day, get a little bit of supplies, bring it back, every day.
And just to control the supplies at home. He had too much food at the house, it didn’t’ matter. He would just still go out, get a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, because he wants to control the situation and he couldn’t because the world now dictates what he has to do, not he dictates how he wants to live.
So I just feel that maybe stereotypes help jus, you know, when we come across situations that aren’t routine, it might help us cope and deal with those situation, right? And may you make quick judgement, fight or flight. That sort of system, right? And if it’s a fight…
And this is one of the reasons why stereotypes can cause a lot of fights around the world or flights. We use stereotypes to stay away from certain people or block them from coming to us. Or we fight them, we argue with them, we tell them – you are not good, get away from us, right?
So stereotypes, I think, in nature create conflict, right? And separation between people. And I think that’s one of the reasons why in the 21st century we don’t like that, because we are supposed to live in a global age, where people are supposed to open their borders.
People are supposed to meet that people are different from us, right? So it goes against that our current world culture. So I’ve always felt that way about… That’s why people stereotype. I think so.
Okay. I just wanted to add that for example if we talk about ethnic stereotypes, some scientists or psychologists, they say that some of them may be positive, like you know that it’s a common belief that, let’s say, Germans make good cars, or even if we talk about some kind of behavior.
Because I’ve even heard such a stereotype or maybe common belief that Canadians are polite. And I think, well, it’s good, but on the other hand I agree with you that nowadays we consider stereotypes as something negative,
because of that maybe stigmatized opinions or something like that, especially when we talk about race or age or gender. So of course, they are negative in most cases. And you are right, they can cause conflicts.
Yeah, I mean, some stereotypes are… You were talking about mainly positive and negative. I’ve always felt that stereotypes are… I don’t know… I mean, are they positive? Are there any positive stereotypes?
Just considering maybe ethnic stereotypes. But as for the rest of them, I mean other types like I mentioned, that are connected with race, or maybe gender, or skin color, well, of cruse they are negative.
So, what are…. Give me one positive stereotype that you can think of.
Just.. .Well, as far as I mentioned, I can think of an ethnic stereotype, the couple of ethnic stereotypes.
Yeah, something positive.
For example, about Germans, right? That… Well, usually people believe or people think that Germans make good cars and it’s quite, well, it’s quite known.
So they use it to sell cars.
It’s good for them, it’s good for them, for their marketing. So do Germans make the best cars? I don’t know.
Of course the majority of them or I would say, even the most of them are negative, and we should be critical, we should think about that if we want to… For example, I like your example with that caveman, because you see…
When you see somebody who is different from you of course you start thinking, or maybe people used to think that these people are different because they have a different skin color, they have different habits, different lifestyle. So that’s why they are not good, because I’m different.
But now we live in a world which is going global, and we live in globalization sort of things of course, we should look at each as picked from different perspectives, so that is why we should be critical. Critical thinking is the key word here.
So how does one escape judging others through a stereotype? I mean these things are pretty engraved in us since we were kids, right? So, how does one go about reversing stereotypes? I mean, right now, there is that, you know, the movement around the world. I was talking to my friend from Australia who way saying a couple of days ago.
And she was saying that that Black Lives Matter movement is so huge in Australia right now. And it is really really strange, because it is not an Australian movement, it is an American movement. So now it’s made its way globally to wherever black people live, so I’m just wondering.
And this whole thing is about reversing stereotypes, right? Reversing assumptions about other people which can lead to disastrous consequences, specially violence, right? So, how do we recondition a culture to get away from stereotyping? Is this something inborn, engraved in us? It might be, right? So how do you go against human nature? It’s my point.
Well, I think, the key point, as far as I mentioned, is critical thinking and anyway, you shouldn’t compare a person for example to some general beliefs that we know. And of course we should value each person as he or she is. And don’t think about some, just some common beliefs maybe.
Or don’t think about some information that we had before. And of course if we talk about getting rid of stereotypes I think you should ask yourself that - how would this person behave or how you would behave in this… At this particular moment and see maybe some other circumstances or think of some other things that are around us.
I think… Anyway you shouldn’t judge a person comparing to some common beliefs or common characteristics. Because every person is individual, yes? And it’s even dangerous to compare one person to a set of characteristics that we had before.
Right. I mean, the friend I was speaking to, she asked certain questions to me which I found very interesting. And she asked me how are the race relations in Russia? The first thing I told her was listen, I’ve only lived in Siberia so far, and Siberia’s a very different place to, say, the Western part of Russian as I understand.
Right? So I can’t speak of that. Nor can I speak for the Far East, only for Siberia. And I told her, well, Siberians are incredibly welcoming of everybody it seems. It seems like to me it’s like, I don’t know, I mean it’s very very… The relations here is… It’s like it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are, right?
And I think that’s a really… I can tell that there has been hundreds of years of interethnic interracial mixing of cultures and ethnicities in this country. For so long that people just don’t care so much anymore, right? Really don’t care so much.
Whereas of course, if you look at English-speaking countries or even the European, the Western European continents, they’re having this problem now, because this problem is fairly new for them. Because they have people coming to their borders and trying to intermingle and trying to work out the differences through stereotypes and whatnot, right?
I mean, I remember in Sydney in like 3 German girls, I met them in a pub. They were young girls, around 23-24, college educated, middle class, it was obvious. And they were telling me just how much they hate the Islamic immigrants that are coming into their country.
Because they are coming in, they are, you now, doing riots, they are hitting people in the streets, they are raping the girls. And the police didn’t bother anymore in protecting them, right? And it was so, really weird. Because, you know, in Sydney, we didn’t really grow up in that, right? That sort of..
But in Germany I could see in a liberal arts educated middle class, you know, German girls, this thing was acceptable. It was really strange, and it was all based on stereotypes. I could see those stereotypes plain in their heads, right. Islamic men are rapists, they are..
They are disruption to our society, and we can never integrate Islam into our culture. Right? Those are the stereotypes that were ingrained into them. And it’s not something that started during childhood, something that started during adulthood. Right?
So, even when you are told stereotypes as an adult, these things can play a powerful role in the way you interact with other people. So I always found that in Russia things are… I would say that this is the least racist country I’ve ever been to, this is the least discriminatory country I’ve ever been to.
Yeah, you’re right, because here, as you mentioned… Well, historically we have a mix of different ethnicities and you know that Russia has lots of ethnicities in it. And that’s why people live in peace, they’re friendly towards each other. And we don’t have such a problem., because…
And now, when we look at such examples like we see in Europe or maybe in other countries, of course it seems strange and, like, we have a question – how it can be like this? Because… Well, you gave a good example of those German girls, because, well,
even if they met those guys being adult people, but still they had some beliefs that were given them during the childhood. And that’s why without interacting with those newcomers, they previously had a belief that they’re bad guys and they should do or they would do these such bad things in their country.
But well, as for Russia, it’s different, I mean in terms of interethnic relationship or maybe I can give you an example of Kazakhstan, because I was born in Kazakhstan and I lived there for many years. And people live, I mean, people are friendly, because it’s multinational, not multinational, but maybe.. How to say…
Yes, multiethnic, that’s the right word. It’s a multiethnic country, and people share their cultures with each other, they also borrow some things from other cultures. It’s a good mix. So, here we have the same.
But you know, I’ve heard a completely different story about Kazakhstan from the Russians who have emigrated here from there. I ran across quite a few over the last year. And they told me that when they were young, during the SSSR period, things were all good.
Everybody, you know, everybody were friends. And everybody was, you know, offering each other and whatnot. As soon as that relation collapsed and the new government came, they started teaching some sort of ethnic..
ethno-nationalism that said that Kazakhs are the best, and everybody else was now not welcome or something. And they saw that Kazakh peoples, the native Kazakhs, their attitude towards different groups changed. And some people were quite…
And there were fights and conflicts and whatnot., And a lot of ethnic Russians ran from Kazakhstan to cities like Novosibirsk. And they’ve settled here. So, I mean, is this just a small outlying case or are we talking about something…
Well, of course I think it’s an exception, because, well, you are right, and we can’t say that everything is 100% right and the best, yes. Of course, there are some problems and there are maybe some issues, but still, it’s just… I would say it’s an exception. They are not common and I’m sure 100%.
Well, maybe after, you know, after the USSR collapsed, there was a period of hardship, because people didn’t have enough money to live. And didn’t have good jobs and that’s why they got angry and maybe that was the reason.
They looked for someone to blame. Right, that’s right, that’s the human nature. They look for something to blame. You know, so I looked int this, because I was fascinated by this whole, you know, the harmony, they harmony you have here to different groups of people.
And I’m gonna try to sort of jigsaw this together, and correct me if I’m not correct, right. So, the way this happened is that originally the western part of Russia, where the imperial seat was throned, which is Moskva and Leningrad, these places, right.
They expanded their territory east through Siberia into the Far East. Is that correct? And the first people that sort of, they conquered, they integrated into their society were called the Tatars, and that was Kazan. Is that correct?
Yes, actually, it was like… But it was long ago, it was like in the 16th century.
But that’s what I’m saying, that this all happened long time ago, whereas all places around the world had to deal with this sort of in the recent years, right? So Russia’s had at a longer time to integrate as they pushed eastwards conquering more ethnic groups such as Buryats and then the Yakutians and whatnot, right?
Then they had to integrate them into the society, teach them Russian language and whatnot. Nd this process took hundreds of years, and then when it came to the Soviet government, they standardized everything, right? Their game was let’s standardize everything.
And the point, you know, as I suppose the representative point was that Stalin wasn’t even Russian, he was actually Georgian, right? And my girlfriend put it this way – it didn’t matter that he was Georgian, what mattered was that he was a good communist, right?
So the people of Russia were more than willing to accept him as their leader, right, because he was great communist, not because he was some special ethnic group. So if you look at that, whereas like the United States elected president Obama only about 10-12 years ago.
So it took a long time, whereas Stalin was like 70-80 years now we are talking about. So Russia’s had much longer period to deal with differences, and stereotypes don’t matter as much. People joke about stereotypes here, they definitely do, right?
They have black sense of humor, right? They talk about other groups and make fun of them, right? In a sort of a nice way, nice jokey way, not in a nasty way, right? So stereotypes do exist here, but they’re not as damaging, they’re not as damaging.
That’s right. That’s why the thing I’m telling is that sometimes stereotypes can be something more positive, because people can, like, play jokes, but it’ good. I mean they don’t intend to harm other people or to hurt their feelings. So that’s why..
And actually I agree with you, because the longer the period of integration maybe, assimilation with other people, other peoples let’s say, yes, or other ethnicities into one country, the better their relationships are and the better this process is.
I mean, the process of integration. If it happens so quick, like within a decade, I think it’s a short period of time and of course it can be dangerous, because it’s difficult to change people’s minds, yes, the way they think. You need a long time for that.
You need time for that, right. So that’s just basically time we’re talking about when it comes to stereotypes and their damaging effects dissipating the way in history time. But you know, there’s one group here I noticed, that is unanimously stereotyped incredibly badly, and thus hated unanimously, right, by everyone I’ve ever met.
And this is so surprising to me, this is what I told my friend in Australia. It’s weird. Everybody’s friendly here to everybody, and it’s all very equal ethnically, but when it comes to one group, this group is just hated, right? Gypsies.
Yeah, gypsies. I think their history, or something, I think they came from India hundreds of years ago to Russian lands and there were nomadic people, they lived in carriages and whatnot. And now they live their settles lives, they live in villages and in whatnot, they have their own communes and stuff like that.
But when I first came here, there were these people going through garbage, right outside my apartment. They had a little stroller, just a little wheeled stroller, and they were putting things into that stroller from the garbage bin. I first thought they were garbage collectors, right?
I didn’t know what they were at the beginning. They were of sort of darker complexion and they were clothed in what was a little bit different to anybody else. And then I went to the local Gorozhanka, right, and outside there was a woman dressed completely differently, like very colorful in a way that it was almost like a robe, with a baby begging for money.
And I just kinda thought – they are very different here, who are these people? So I asked Siberians that I met here for the first time, and I asked what are these sort of folks that are hanging around here, right? And you know, they sort of collect garbage and they sort of begging in the streets, and they told me - gypsies.
There was like a disgust in their eyes. And I said - why, okay. And then I started to talk to more Siberians about them, and each time the response is the same. It is one of disgust, it is one of looking down.
So I asked them – why is that that Russians are very very ethnically and are fairly equal, but when it comes to just one group, why is that that people don’t like them? Right? And they gave me a whole bunch of stereotypes about them, right?
It did reveal to me stereotypes how they’re drug dealers, and they don’t integrate, and they don’t get educated, and they don’t even speak the language. And they’ve been here for hundreds of years. You know what I mean?
And then they told me there are two kinds of gypsies, there’s one that sing and dance but they’re all gone. They don’t exist anymore. The only ones that are left are the ones who are begging and stealing, right? And hitting people. I just kinda thought – well, that is some muddy powered stereotype you’ve got in your head, right?
They are right about certain groups of people, right, right about a certain group of people. So can you tell me a little bit about this? Where does this thing coming from? I mean ultimately it feels like fa failure of integration, and it’s a reminder, it’s a painful reminder to Russians that they cannot always integrate everybody possibly.
Well, as far as I see it, just historically gypsies, they, yes, they were nomads, and they moved from one place to another. And just, you know, maybe the strange thing for me and for lots of people is that those people, I think just…
If we talk about their feelings, about their satisfaction with their life maybe, they feel it’s okay do like this. You know maybe that most of them used to be, or even they are, especially women, they are like fortune tellers. And they try to make money using this, I wouldn’t say maybe technique or knowledge.
I even don’t know how to… what to call this, but you know, other people don’t like it when just one gypsy woman is running after you and just telling you give me some money and I will tell you the future. Something like that.
Or maybe… Of course, of course I agree that some people are stereotyping about them. Just they were maybe, they used to steal horses in the past, or they did some bad things, they asked or they begged for money or something like that. But on the other hand, as far as I see it, maybe those people they are okay with the current lifestyle they have and they don’t want to change anything in their life.
But shouldn’t Russians be accepting that?
Of course. You mean their way of life?
Yeah, if they wanna live that way, it’s their choice, right?
Well of course they should accept, but, so here yes, it comes to stereotypes, and stereotyping. And maybe I even don’t… It’s quite controversial, yes, you are right. Sometimes you feel sorry for such people, because they don’t have enough money, they don’t have good jobs.
They are not accepted by most of the people, but on the other hand, when you see that they’re okay with such a life that they have, and you think – well, it’s their choice.
So, you think that Russians are a little bit conformist in nature, that everybody should… We have a standard that accepts differences in society, differences in people, but you must conform to that standard at least. So there’s like a base line.
Of course it depends on a person, but generally, generally yes, I think you are right.
And if you are out of this base line, then you can kinda get stereotyped badly.
That’s the risk. Right. Right. Now, because I’ve got the nicest people around me that make the worst stereotypes about gypsies. Right? And thus react really badly to them, right, in public I’ve seen, I was kinda shocked by that. I mean, Australia doesn’t have that one group that we sort of tend to pick on.
One group that is unanimously hated. Australia doesn’t have that. Everybody kind of keeps a smile to each other. They may not like each other, but it’s important to kind of try to be friends, or pretend to be friends, right?
Like a cold war, right? Like a cold war that’s going on. And that’s okay. As long as… You don’t have to like everybody. As long as you’re willing to work with them. As long as you’re willing to create a peaceful harmonious society with them I think we can be satisfied at this point.
But when it comes to gypsies here, there’s no mercy given on that. I just found that there’s no quarter, no mercy, no peaceful resolutions. Literally, there’s none. That’s the reaction of all the Siberians I’ve met here. So I was kind of really shocked by that.
Yeah, I think it’s a problem not only for Siberia, I mean when you talk about gypsy people. Because, you know, actually it’s the same, I would say in all parts of Russia and other countries like, well… I saw the same in Kazakhstan when I was living there. And just I know the same… similar cases if we talk about European countries, especially maybe about Eastern Europe.
So, to wrap It up here, I mean how should we deal with stereotypes in society? How do we deal with them in the 21st century and beyond?
Okay, first of all you should think critically. Don’t be too… Don’t try to judge people according to their.. just according to what people generally believe about this. Just you should think about a person as an individual and of course try to..
If you have an opportunity, if you have a chance, try to interact, to communicate with him or her and… because I think communication is a good way here, I mean it’s one of the means to solve this problem. To get rid of stereotypes.
And maybe the second is that we should pay attention or take into account what our media do, or entertainment industry, like movies or theater or other kinds of entertainment. And of course our educations institutions, they can be a solution as well.
I think those are some wise words from Vladimir. Well this has been the BigAppleSchool podcast, this is Mike.
I hope you enjoyed the show. Signing off.