EXCELLENT QUESTION, 2fine4u! I understand exactly what you are saying. Indeed, common sense dictates that, if someone doesn't "fit the mold" of what is thought to be true of all people within a particular group, it should be concluded that, obviously, the stereotypes are just that- stereotypes.
But here's the problem:
Many racists (and other prejudiced people) are so convinced that what they believe is fact (and many are so determined to hate) that they rationalize their beliefs by any explanation necessary. I'll give an example to illustrate my point:
One of my aunts is extremely prejudiced. She is racist, homophobic, sexist.... You name it, she's it.
She was evicted a few years ago and went to live with my grandmother, who lives in a majority-black neighborhood, for a while until she found a new place. So she had the chance to get to know a few of my grandmother's black friends- very polite, respectful, educated black women who provide for their families and are a joy to be around for more reasons than I have time to say. And my aunt agrees that they are very nice and that they are, as she says, "being assets to society". But this has not changed her attitude. Here is one of the comments that she has made: "Yea, they're good black people. But they're still black. They're good because they chose to fight their blackness." I'm sure you understand what she meant by that statement, but I will clarify for those who may not understand....
My aunt thinks that "black" is similar to mental illnesses- something that has to be "overcome". (She thinks the same about all others whom she stereotypes.) She has convinced herself that black people are inherently rude, loud, lazy, liars, schemers, etc..., but that these "unfortunate predetermined characteristics" can be "beaten" by the select few who seek therapy and/or live by the "positive example of white people".
I'm sure you can imagine what I've had to experience with her. I will no longer have anything to do with her. She went as far as to say that my husband is not to be trusted alone with her teenage daughter, because, since he's black, his "nature might get the best of him". HOW SICK! I'm sure you can also imagine how confused my little cousin is.
Anyway, my point is that prejudice does not adhere to common sense or the obvious. Unfortunately, we are dealing with several people who are determined to cling to their ridiculous beliefs regardless of what facts are presented to them and even regardless of what they observe for themselves. I am convinced that there are some prejudiced people who are ignorant and need only to be educated and shown that they have been taught misinformation. But, regrettably, there are those who are lost to us- those who are going to hold steadfast onto the falsehoods that are fixated in their minds. And they will continue to embrace those falsehoods regardless of all logic, regardless of the obvious, regardless of what is staring them right in their faces.
Thank you for asking this question. I don't always agree with your posts, but you are such a jewel. You have chosen to speak out against one of the many cancers in this world. Everything you say matters and makes an impact. Thank you so much!
****Your response to globalie is wonderful! You made yet another excellent point. I will add by saying what I always say regarding statistics: Statistics are unreliable. They can be fudged. Sources are often biased. Mistakes are made. And so on. When I state my opinion on this matter I think people sometimes misunderstand me and think that I am arguing with possibilities. But this isn't what I'm doing. I'm not arguing with possibilities, or even strong possibilities in some cases. All I'm saying is that I don't think we should blindly accept the statistics that we are given as being completely trustworthy and reliable. I believe that, if we rely on statistics, we are at risk of falling into the same pit of ignorance as anyone who lumps entire groups of people together.