Tag Archives: stereotypes

The Subtleties of Systemic Exclusion

4 Dec

Last weekend my partner and I went to see The Delivery Man (don’t judge me – new parent movie criteria includes close to home, not too late and a few good laughs. check, check, check).

In the movie, Vince Vaughn discovers he is the biological father to 533 kids because the sperm bank he donated to as a college student used his sperm exclusively for the better part of a year.

He proceeds to get to know some of the young adults whose profiles he has. He meets about 10 of them one on one, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the writers did an okay job of mixing things up a bit: one kid is nonverbal and in a wheelchair, one is biracial, one is gay, one is a drug addict, one is of larger body size. When we pan over the larger crowd of offspring, there are a few more kids of colour that are visible. A thoughtful mix for a fluffy movie. A nice surprise.

And a few “ughs” on my part:

– The kids with whom Vince has passing encounters (at a bar, at a grocery store) aren’t given names in the movie, but of course are listed in the credits in context-specific ways that we would recognize them: “young boozer” “bag boy”. In terms of plot, perhaps the way he met them “in passing” did not allow for him to use their names. Still, too bad.  

– The “young boozer” is a young man of larger body size who is stereotypically jovial. In this case, a happy drunk.

– All of the kids he actually meet in a meaningful way are thin.

– And one of the two females he meets is a hot mess and overdoses. Great. At least it wasn’t the biracial girl.

– The biracial girl works in a spa and Vince has a manicure and pedicure and so they chat over those. Seems she has her stuff together and doesn’t need help – nice change. But of the 6 kids or so whose names we DO get to see as he reads their profile and decides to track them down (usually at work) she is only one who doesn’t appear in the credits by name. She is simply “The African American Spa Girl”.  Sigh.

Picky? Maybe. But all of these are good example of systemic isms and how subtle they are at reducing worth. It’s my job to notice.

Oh, and the star basketball player was white. They cleverly dodged that stereotype. Interesting choice.

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copyright 2013 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, Speaker and Facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.



The Lorax

6 Mar

A little departure from the ordinary, but it all ties in, I promise.

I went to see the movie The Lorax this past Friday. It’s a heartwarming cartoon about the environment – based on the book of the same name by Dr. Seuss.

Great story, great message, great animation. Whether or not you have kids it’s a worthwhile way to spend $13 and a couple of hours.

But that’s not what I want to write about.

A few things struck me, diversity-wise (see, it ties in).

Firstly. All the black people had Afros! A welcome change from the straight flowing hair we sometimes see on people of colour in the movies. It’s a cartoon, but still.

Secondly, and what bothered me enough to blog about it: Why is it necessary to have a character we laugh at, just because of who they are? A character whose sole purpose is entertainment at their own expense. This time it was a large character. A bear, to be exact. But he fit the damaging and hurtful stereotypes of people who are of larger size: he ate the most marshmallows, he was the slowest, and he could never keep up. It made me sad that in a movie with such a great theme (and meant for kids), “the fat kid” had to be the one to add some laughs – for all the wrong reasons.

And just like that, someone gets put aside for who they are – and the rest of us have one more opportunity to reinforce the stereotypes.


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copyright 2012 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

“Foreign Workers” – really Tim?!

8 Sep

Since the foundation of the work I do is helping people to become aware of the assumptions, stereotypes, and perceptions they carry – and how these (often unconsciously) create barriers for others and between themselves and others – I have to comment on Tim Hudak’s use of the term “foreign workers.”

Foreign worker, to me, implies someone that arrives here to work, but goes back to their country of origin. We have many foreign workers (also known as migrant workers) who (for instance) come to work the land from Spring to Fall. You may have seen some of them working at your local Farmers’ Market.

One could argue that foreign workers are doing work that Canadians won’t do (at the very least, they are doing it for less, and often in abysmal conditions).

But someone who comes here to start a new life for whatever reason is an immigrant. Many immigrants come with a rich background, ready to contribute, and very often find it difficult (if not impossible) to work in their field. They are very often Foreign Trained Professional (or Internationally Educated Professionals).

Hmmm….Foreign Trained Professional or Internationally Educated Professional has a different ring to it, doesn’t it? Hmmm…I wonder why Hudak isn’t using those terms?

Words are powerful. They can impact what we see, think and feel – and consequently also what we don’t see, think, or feel – and thereby impact the way we treat others.

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copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
Author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

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