I have often been asked about my parents and their sentiments towards my husband when we were dating. Did they harbor any stereotypes about my husband, who is Indian, and if so, how did we overcome that challenge?
Well, in short, the answer is yes. My father, who is African-American did. I can recall, my father telling me that while I was dating my husband, Sachin that he may evolve. Evolve how I’m sure you are wondering?
Forthrightly, my dad stated that Sachin, may become: militant/domineering, expect me to be subservient and want me to cook Indian food daily after we are married. And at the last statement, I almost choked on the gum I was chewing as I started to laugh hysterically. You know the laugh that ensues when something is so funny to you that you laugh and you cry at the same time. Yes, that was this laugh. Therefore, my dad asked me what was so funny as he started to laugh too. I told him after catching my breath that although Sachin is Indian, he was raised in the U.S. Yes he did grow up eating Indian food daily while living with his parents; however, he has been exposed to other cuisines, and he loves them all. He is a real “FOODIE” that can sit in front of the TV and watch the Food Network all day long. The only cuisine that I know that he can exclusively eat daily given his fondness for the food is Mexican food.
Subsequently, my dad then said, “well that is what I’ve heard Nikita” and I retorted, dad those are all stereotypes. Akin to the stereotype that all Black people love watermelon, crap. I then told my dad that once you get to know Sachin, you will find that all those ideas are the furthest from the truth. My dad agreed to find out for himself with an overly protective and non-optimist shrug. Was he right about Sachin? No
Did he overcome these stereotypes that he applied to Sachin just for being Indian? Yes!
How Did He Overcome His Stereotypes
He simply got to know Sachin better by spending time with him and us as a couple. And also by meeting Sachin’s family in the U.S. In time, my dad even told Sachin jokingly that he had stereotypical thoughts of him early on and knew he was wrong. Has Sachin changed since marriage? No, he is still the same.
Tools For Overcoming Stereotypes
What are other tools for overcoming stereotypes like this outside of being aware they exist?
Here are four additional tools we use to diffuse and overcome stereotypes:
1.) Get to know someone of the ethnicity via work, school, etc;
2.) Read books about the culture;
3.) Get exposed/join social media platforms that cultivate awareness on this subject;
4.) Travel. Traveling helps you see the world in a bigger picture instead of the myopic box that stereotypes live in.
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