Mystery of Stereotypes: A Guide to Self-Understanding and Empathy
by Dr. Tsahai H. London
Pen Culture Solutions

"We create stereotypes to forge a yawning chasm between our group and other groups."

The author’s book begins by telling the story of stereotypes in first-person dialogue. It examines them as labels and gives numerous examples of the types of stereotypes, seeing the reason for their existence as stemming from “noble intentions” as a way for survival regarding the “in” group, but recognizing how such generalizing classifications lead to numerous problems as well. The text looks at negative and positive stereotypes, their potential for damage, and how they reinforce themselves. Some lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, both positive and negative. They cause people to jump to conclusions, assign blame, and engage in selective thinking. The book then focuses on minorities, the issue of cultural constructs, the problems of ethnocentrism, and a divide and conquer mentality. Finally, it explores stereotypes revolving around physical attractiveness, intelligence, and issues at work and school.

The beginning synopsis helps set the stage for the rest of the book. It is full of information that astutely examines stereotypes in all their varying connotations while aiding the reader through what could be a difficult topic, but which is discussed in an easy-to-understand manner. The book looks closely at culture, which is vital because culture is the setting for such stereotypes. Also, putting both positive and negative stereotypes under the microscope helps one realize that all such generalizations are problematic, although they can be a way to examine the changes one needs to make in accepting others. The use of others’ work in creating this book is valuable, making it a more professional read. In short, this is a timely and thought-provoking book designed to make readers pay closer attention to the attitudes and speech patterns many take for granted.

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