Eye On… the U.S. – Rejecting Stereotypes

Stereotypes are familiar to all of us, from the ones that have been applied to us personally to the ones that we’ve found ourselves believing. These quick and easy shortcuts allow us to feel as though we know about a group of people, without having to do the personal work of developing a relationship and, while many of us have personally felt the discomfort of dealing with such a label, it can be difficult to recognize that we’re still engaged in stereotyping others.

When you think of Muslims in America, what comes to mind? Do you think of people from a particular area of the world? Do you have certain perceptions of their marriages and families? Do you wonder if they might struggle with English or speak with an accent? How do you picture their homes or occupations? Do they fall into certain political groups? What kind of reaction do you envision when you talk about your faith?

In the same way that we want to be known and understood, we have to balance our knowledge of Islam and Muslims as a group with our willingness to learn and engage with Muslims one on one. The information that we have about American Muslims is only useful if we’re using it to develop and enrich our relationships. Let’s not let stereotype rob us and our Muslim friends of the richness of being fully known.

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