Wed Apr 23 19:02:00 SAST 2014
Wed Apr 23 19:02:00 SAST 2014

Racial and tribal stereotypes to laugh about

Aug 12, 2011 | Redi Tlhabi |   483 comments

Stupid things we believe about others

RECENTLY on my radio show I wanted to find out from our listeners what stereotypes make their blood boil.

The hilarity of the responses evoked such laughter that I am compelled to share what came out.

Firstly, I got my knickers in a knot about the stereotype that being an affirmative action appointee means one lacks brains and qualifications. As a proud affirmative action supporter and beneficiary, I am delighted that I have the opportunity to apply my talent and what I learnt at university and various broadcasting institutions.

I have found that when listeners disagree with something I say, they quickly remind me that were it not for affirmative action, I would not be behind the microphone. I say they are right!

But of course what they mean is that I lack the intelligence and training to do my job. How wrong.

I also bemoaned the oft-repeated stereotype that "South Africans are lazy!" Excuse me? This economy was built on the back of exploited South Africans, who toiled the mines and farms at great risk to themselves, in search of the earth's bountiful resources.

The factories across this land were operated by men and women who caught trains at the crack of dawn, producing goods that they could not afford with their meagre salaries. So don't talk to me about South Africans being lazy!

Let's not forget the appalling misogynistic stereotype that women who wear mini-skirts are asking for it.

Once we got the serious stuff out of the way, we really delved into the stereotypes that make us unique as people and are a source of good-natured laughter.

A Limpopo woman says she hates the stereotype that people from that region are ZCC members.

A Xhosa-speaking woman lamented that other women look at her with grave suspicion because Xhosa women are known to steal other women's boyfriends and husbands.

A Shangaan male phoned to assure us that he is not well hung and lacks the ability to keep going the whole night!

My male listeners were relieved that the competition is not that stiff.

But a brave white man told us that the stereotype that bugs him is that all white men have small packages but in his case it is true. I swear he said this.

A Venda caller also debunked the myth that all Venda and Shangaan people drink Fanta Orange, Pine Nut and Iron Brew soft drinks.

An Indian woman said her nerves are rattled when people assume she is Muslim or a Taliban supporter.

A Jewish listener was emphatic that not all Jews are rich and stingy.

We learnt in this conversation that not all Portuguese own a fish and chips shop.

A white woman set the record straight that white people do actually get cold when it is cold! She also dismissed the assumption that all white people like to have their dogs in bed with them when they sleep.

I learnt of a new stereotype from a comment posted on twitter that: "If you are from Mpumalanga you must have cheated in your matric exam!"

Brandon phoned us to say: "Redi, I am Coloured, I don't speak Afrikaans, I don't come from Eldos and most importantly I have all my front teeth." Yes sir, I replied!

Clara informed us that her big bugbear is the belief that feminists all have hairy armpits and hate men. Well I know a few that do (have hairy armpits) but, hey, that's beside the point.

Another Indian caller argued that not every Indian is looking to cut a deal! No one believed him!

A Lesotho national poured scorn over the stereotype that all Basotho wear blankets and ride horses all the time!

As expected we had some Nigerians telling us that contrary to popular belief, they are not all drug lords.

We had a great laugh over the stupid things we believe about each other and that is exactly what stereotypes are: popular beliefs based on assumptions.

Let's not forget to separate them from reality.

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