Oxford’s dictionary defines stereotypes as a “widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing” (Sterotype , n.d.). In the essay written by Drew Hayden Taylor, titled Pretty Like a White Boy: The Adventures of a Blue Eyed Ojibway, stereotypes play a significant role. This essay provides many examples of stereotypes and their effects on people. In the essay, we see Taylor use stereotypes in response to the stereotypes used against him, but ultimately these stereotypes don’t help him fit in..
The stereotypes used against Taylor in this essay have a significant effect on him, consciously and unconsciously. Throughout his life, Taylor was exposed to stereotypes because of the way he looked. For example, he mentions both white and native people asking him whether he’s native, and then doubting him. “My pinkness is constantly being pointed out to me over and over again. “You don’t look Indian?” “You’re not Indian, are you?” “Really?!?”” (Taylor, 1962).
These people who are doubting him, are doing so because, they have an image in their mind of what a stereotypical Native person would look like. They are surprised that people of aboriginal descent don’t all look one way. To constantly be questioned and challenged about your heritage can be tiring.
The incident that seemed to have affected him the most though was the incident with the little girl who claimed he was not aboriginal because he didn’t want to drink tea, since in her mind all natives did (Taylor, 1962). As ridiculous as that claim is, that little girl truly believed it, and since Taylor already didn’t look like what she thought a native man would , she justified or proved that he wasn’t native with another stereotype. The fact that Taylor was in a hurry didn’t matter, because in her eyes a native person always drinks tea (Taylor, 1962).
As Taylor even mentions himself at the beginning of the essay that he is not the stereotypical native person when he says “Once you get past the aforementeded eyes, the fair skin, light brown hair, and noticeable lack of cheekbones, therein lies the heart and spirt of an Ojibway storyteller” (Taylor, 1962). He describes the characteristics of himself that doesn’t add up those of the characteristics of an typical Ojibway storyteller, even though that is what he identifies himself as..In response to the stereotypes used against him, Taylor in result uses them himself. For example he says “White people – food and big tits.
” (Taylor, 1962). This is a clear example of negative stereotypes he used against white people, but he also used positive stereotypes when talking about his native heritage. Positive stereotypes are stereotypes that highlight positive qualities or seem complimentary (McLeod, 2008). For example, when talking about natives he said “Native people have this wonderful respect and love for the land “ (Taylor, 1962).
Which is the complete opposite of how he stereotyped caucasions. He stereotyped caucasions as very superficial with good food, in contrast to how he stereotyped aborginals who have love for the land. This could partly be because of how and who he was raised by. Since he wasn’t raised by his father (who was causcasion) he wasn’t exposed to that culture.
On the other hand, he was raised raised by an Ojibway woman and grew up on the reserve around other Objibway people. He has a better understanding of what it means to be an Objibway man so his stereotypes about them are more detailed and “positive”. He does not really know his father so subconsciously since his father is a white man, he could have a more negative stereotypes about them..