Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote an article for the 05/06/12 edition entitled Trayvon ‘killed by stereotype’. Not withstanding the fact that Mr. Pitts makes his living as a writer by ferreting out any potential of racial conflict even where none may exist, he may be right to some degree. Stereotypes cannot kill. Ideas or thoughts cannot kill anymore than any inanimate object can kill without human intervention. Mr. Pitts’ article echoes a sentiment used as a reelection stunt by U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D, Ill) and many others, stereotypes are not always true. A person may meet the characteristics of a given stereotype in terms of looks and maybe even action, but not be of type at all. This may have been the case in the Martin-Zimmerman tragedy, but that isn’t the point here.
Stereotypes do exist, they are real and they work in two ways. The social apologists are quick to point out that in one way stereotypes are labels that may unfairly prejudice a person’s thinking about an individual. When they do so, they conveniently omit that the human mind naturally develops groupings and categories of like appearing objects as a means for dealing with new images and ideas. Hence, the meaning of the word stereotype, things that look or act alike. The other way that stereotypes work is when people adopt an image, or mannerism that is typical of a particular group. Nearly everyone does it. The way they dress, the company they keep, even the ideas they espouse, even to the point of adopting a common culture. It is human and it is real.
The American vernacular is replete with culturally stereotypical sayings. ‘Birds of a feather, flock together’; ‘you are known by the company you keep’; and ‘it takes one to know one’ are indicative of cultural acknowledgement of stereotyping. There are others. ‘Dress for success’; ‘look the part, act the part’; and ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’ are usually considered ‘good’ stereotypical connotations. But even these cultural admonitions have the catch phrase, ‘you can’t tell a book, by its cover’, meaning that what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. It also implies that looks can be deceiving, and that actions make not be what they seem.
So just what is this LEED-PAC we see advertising in the local paper? Why have its listed proponents and financial backers ‘flocked together’? Do they have a stereotypical commonality, other than pure altruism? Could the LEED-PAC actually be a grouping of individuals who have vested interests in the outcomes of the election in November? One typecast observation is that the LEED-PAC is about maintaining a certain degree of control on economic development and education spending in Lee County; are they the so-called ‘establishment good ole boys’? Many of the LEED-PAC people have heavy financial interest in how development will transpire in the County. That doesn’t sound altruistic, rather it sounds eerily like keeping control on how money is made and who gets to make it. It also sound eerily like it entails how public tax dollars are spent, and who gets to benefit from that spending. Is the LEED-PAC a ‘Trayvon hoodie’ hiding something unknown, with unknown intent? Maybe it’s time to know just how innocent or sinister this group is?