Student Sample: 2021 Speech

“In TEXT 3, Chadwick Boseman draws attention to the dangers of stereotyping.
You have been asked to speak, as a representative of a national youth organisation, at the launch of a major campaign against stereotyping. Write the speech you would deliver.

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Ally McElroy and today I am going to talk to you about different stereotypes and the effects of stereotypes have on people in today’s society. 

Have you ever looked at someone and thought they don’t deserve to be treated equally because of what they look like or who they are? Exactly, neither have I. But the reality is that some people do, whether they wish to acknowledge it or not.

Stereotyping is forming a fixed general idea or image about someone or a group of people but nine times out of ten it is wrong. I strongly disagree with stereotyping as no two people on this earth are the same.

Look around, the only thing you people have in common is that you are all sitting in front of me here today… that’s it. Stereotyping isn’t just a trend going around now but it has been around for hundreds of years and will continue if we allow it. While it may seem like we can just stop paying attention to stereotyping, it’s not that easy. It can often turn into a voice of self doubt in our heads that can be extremely hard to ignore.

There are many types of stereotyping but I think most of us can agree that some are much more serious than others. Before I get started, I know there are two sides to every story but when things go too far, enough is enough. The stereotyping of people of colour has had a negative impact on  families and communities. For instance, the belief that people of colour are unintelligent, lazy and violent has affected education, employment and social status. 

Now , I don’t know if this is just me but I can’t understand how we, as a society, can judge a person and make all these assumptions based on the colour of a person’s skin. 

One problem that people of colour suffer from is their treatment at the hands of the police or people in positions of power.The problem has been going on for centuries. From Eugene Williams, a seventeen year old African-American boy who was stoned to death in 1919 all because he swam into what they deemed the wrong part of lake Michigan to George Floyd, a forty-six year old African-American who was choked to death by a police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly ten minutes in the middle of the road.  These two events may be almost 100 years apart but they are sadly tales that are all too familiar and highlight the hardships that people of colour endure in our society. Our police force is supposed to represent law and order and the communities they police. These police officers do not represent me, how about you?

This is not just an American problem.  The police in the U.K are three times more likely to arrest a black man than a white man in 2019. In fact, Jermaine Defoe, a former Spurs soccer player was stopped by police four times in one month because they found it suspicious that a black man was driving an expensive sports car.

I know some of you might argue that I am stereotyping police officers but when you see the statistics, it’s hard to ignore. Surely you agree that this is not acceptable in today’s world?

It’s hard to believe that in 2021, I am here talking to you about Gender stereotyping, but the reality is that it is still a problem in today’s world. Gender stereotyping is assuming men or women can only carry out specific roles. It all starts from before we are even born at gender reveal parties, if the balloons are pink we take for granted the baby will be a girl and if they are blue then the baby will be a boy. Who decided this? Obviously a few coloured balloons isn’t going to affect us but when gender stereotyping begins to affect people’s lives and careers then it is a problem. Since the beginning of time, women have been looked down on and seen more as objects than humans. Men tend to view women as more delicate and fragile and should really only handle things like cooking, cleaning and looking after children. I know you are probably thinking, it’s 2021 and that no one could possibly still think like this. However, according to studies there are still those who believe that women are inferior to men and should be treated as such. Speaking as a young woman, I don’t understand this and it really frustrates me. 

Even though it is proven that businesses with a higher  female employment rate are more successful and that women work ten percent harder than men, women still don’t get the acknowledgement and equal rights that they deserve. I don’t know if it is because men are scared of the power women have or jealous of their ability to do anything they put their mind to but I just want to remind you that women are not out working hard just to prove to men they can, they are doing it to be role models for younger females.

Before all you females out there go mad at the males, they don’t have it easy either. Male stereotyping isn’t talked about as often as it should be. Men, just like women, are constricted by stereotypes and penalised for acting outside their traditional role. More than one third of boys think society expects them to be strong and tough, that they must“be a man” and if things are tough, they need to “suck it up”. This is nonsense! We are all humans with emotions and feelings. I am sure all of you have had a bad day or been told bad news and to think that it is not acceptable to be upset or cry about it, is horrible. 

An Australian study based on stereotypes called ‘man box’, revealed that men between the ages of eighteen and thirty believe that talking about issues and concerns is considered weak. They believe that they should act strong even if they feel scared or nervous. They think that successful men look good but don’t spend too much time getting ready because that’s feminine. They say that real men don’t do household chores but that they should be able to provide for a family. They do not consider gay men to be real men and thatstraight men should not have gay friends. And finally, they think a man should have the last say in a relationship. Now, I want everyone here to think about that. I often wonder if they really believe all that or is that what they think society expects them to think? This type of toxic masculinity should be confined to the history books but it shows we have work to do in educating the next generation of men.

In that same study, 64% of men had suicidal thoughts in the last two weeks and 71%  had physically bullied someone in the last month. Not only are the numbers shockingly high but they’re still rising. I want all of you to please listen when I say this. We are going to create a new norm. Repeat after me, asking for help is a sign of strength, tough men show their vulnerabilities, authentic men are attractive and domestic roles and chores are not defined by gender. As Emma Watson once said, “both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong…. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals”.

Finally the last stereotype I want to bring your attention to is social media. We all have it, some of us might just have an account on one platform and others might have multiple accounts on a few different platforms of social media. You might be thinking, what is this girl talking about? How can  an app on my phone have such a large impact on my life?If you ever go to a celebration or event, what is the main conversation? Next time you’re at a gathering, sit back and listen, you will hear, ‘does my hair look ok?’ ‘What does my makeup look like in that photo?’ ‘Should I post this selfie later?’ ‘Let’s get a photo!’ You will soon realise everyone’s main priority is what they look like in photos so they can plaster them all over social media the next day. Yes I am guilty of this because it is lovely to have the memories to look back on but is it really worth it worrying about your appearance to share online?  If your main concern is to look like a stereotypical model you see online then that’s when it becomes a problem. 

Young people are seeing all these photo shopped and edited pictures online and thinking it is reality when every photo they see probably took two or three hours to edit before it was posted. This is a form of body image stereotyping. I think we all have seen a photo of someone and wished we looked like them but in reality the majority of posts we see online are fake and we all need to normalise being comfortable in our own bodies.

I know that everyone is not going to agree with me but I want you to leave today with even the slightest bit of motivation to do something to put a stop to stereotyping. I want you to think, what if it was you in someone else’s position? What if it was your family being judged for simply being themselves?  It is up to every one of us in this room and beyond to help put an end to stereotyping. The future is in our hands.

Thank you all for listening.  

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