Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Social Stereotypes in Real Space

Written by: on May 13, 2015

Social Stereotypes in Real Time

May 13, 15

This reading was really profound. Gill Valentine is really out there I guess that’s why purchasing the book was so expensive. But in the reading some of the issues I have faced as an African American stood out to me. I liked the reading of Social Geographies: Space and Society it was really mind blowing. One thing I did not like is associating homosexuality or lesbianism with African American racial injustice. I understood what she was saying but grouping those two are not synonymous by any means. African Americans were slaves, we were abused, we were not considered a human and we were tortured and separated from our families. While I know that gays and lesbians have suffered abuse they were never taken from their motherland and made slaves. So that grouping together gets on my nerves.

Yet she touched on things I have suffered as an African American. Those things are stereotypes just because of the color of your skin and the body you are in. She talked about space and the body and that was something that got me. In her words, “the black body has been understood to be pre-social, to be driven by biology, in opposition to the civilized and rational white body (Shilling 1993).”[1] This concept is still prevalent today in the minds of a lot of people. And for years it’s had an effect on me. Going into a store and people feeling like you are about to steal something or that you are a potential threat. My geographical background may not be the best neighborhood to grow up in but my father was a civilized man and we were taught that way. But growing up people did not see it that way and not just white people other races too. Now here is another excerpt that a lot of that has come from. Valentine says, “in particular, colonization and slavery have played an important part in defining and developing understanding of black bodies as driven by insatiable sexual appetites, ‘dangerous’, uncivilized, uncontrollable, and a threat to whites.”[2] This social stereotype is still in the minds of many whites when there are African Americans who are very civilized, under control and are not insatiable animals. To me more African Americans are civilized than those who are not. In every race you have your nut cases and it is not just in the African American race.

It was hard growing up with this type of stereotyping. I can remember any store I went into in the suburb being followed around the store and constantly questioned what did I want or do you need some help? They should of asked why are you here are you going to steal something or rob us because that’s they way they came off? This is just the tip of the iceberg because there is much more. For instance recently, the same anxieties about the black body have been reproduced in racist claims that AIDS originated in Africa.[3] I know that all people don’t believe this but some do and it is so disheartening that you have to put up with this type of stereotyping when we have a black president and African American first lady of the United States. I don’t believe AIDS started in Africa or that the Ebola out break came from Africa either.

Who we are should be defined not by the color of our bodies or where we have come from. We should be defined by what we do and how we act not before we do or before we act. Stereotypes are here today and with all the accomplishments of African Americans in the United States you would think people would stop thinking we are uncivilized animals. A lot of times as a preacher of the gospel we have to bring civility to those you would think were the most civilized!

[1] Valentine, Gill (2014-06-06). Social Geographies: Space and Society (Kindle Locations 655-656). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid., 656-657.

[3] Ibid., 679-680.

About the Author

Travis Biglow

Pastor of Victory Empowerment Center. Regional Chaplain High Desert Regional Center Graduates Azusa Pacific University. Licensed General Contractor B. I am the married with one daughter, two grandsons and one step son.

7 responses to “Social Stereotypes in Real Space”

  1. Nick Martineau says:

    Travis, Very real. Thanks! I appreciate your perspective and bringing in your stories of race. We need to hear these stories because too often we can generalize. You also have given me my favorite quote from these blogs, “In every race you have your nut cases and it is not just in the African American race.” Amen! To often we let the “nut cases” tell all the stories.

  2. Dave Young says:

    Travis, Thanks for focusing in the stereotyping that is so prevalent in our society. I especially appreciate how you’ve interwoven your own story. Your concluding thoughts reminds me that the gospel is color blind. Where as man looks on the externals, God looks on the heart. Moreover He can purify a heart before a behavior changes – without having to measure up to what others might want, might prefer, might expect. Challenging to think of others, see other as Jesus sees them. Thanks Brother

    • Travis Biglow says:

      Thank you brother Dave, I thank God he blesses us with real eyes to see clearly. See others as Jesus sees them thats the quote!!!!!!!!!

  3. Brian Yost says:

    “Gill Valentine is really out there I guess that’s why purchasing the book was so expensive.”
    Travis, I think is my favorite quote this week. : )

    I really appreciated your post and the honest reality you shared. When I became a Christian, I was shocked to find such prevalent racism in the church. I expected it in the world, but not in the church. The church should be the place where we realize that we are all part of the same race and that we are called from death to life, from being lost to being brothers and sisters of the same family.

  4. Dawnel Volzke says:

    Amen Travis! You said, “A lot of times as a preacher of the gospel we have to bring civility to those you would think were the most civilized!” Unfortunately, our history has demonstrated that many preachers have been just as guilty of propagating some of the nonsense. Racism and social injustice are systemic issues that are eroding the foundation of America. There is a constant tension under the surface of our culture that needs to be addressed.

    As a female who has been in business leadership positions, I get frustrated at the stereotyping that I’ve experienced in church – thank goodness this doesn’t apply to all churches! I get tired of people assuming that I want to work with the little kids because I’m a mom. My expertise and insight has often been ignored, because I obviously can’t speak about things that are better left to the men. The misuse of “submission” is a huge issue in many denominations. Even in those churches where women are accepted into leadership roles, it is often a fight to become recognized or to have a voice. Sometimes you are granted a voice so that the church can prove they are open to ‘diversity’, when in fact they aren’t. Today, I go to a church that doesn’t have these issues. But, there was a period in my life where I struggled to find a place where I could simply use my leadership skills to serve the Lord.

  5. Mary Pandiani says:

    Wasn’t it Martin Luther King, Jr who said that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week? It breaks my heart that we are so scared of each other because of our differences. I so appreciate your willingness to share your story, Travis. That’s how we can begin to cooperate.
    I can’t imagine being in your shoes, and the indignation you must have experienced over the years. The fact that you serve God in your vulnerability and honesty is a gift to me, even more so to your parishioners. May God continue to strengthen your voice in whatever “space” he calls you.

Leave a Reply