3.8 The impact of 'racialisation'
Imagine that you are a white advice worker who has had little contact with African–Caribbean families. Your view of African–Caribbean people has been informed by the kind of stereotypical views reflected in Activity 6. Now imagine that you have been asked to visit an African–Caribbean mother and her 15-year-old daughter who is pregnant, and who have asked for advice.
What assumptions might you have about the young woman’s and the family’s needs, and how might these assumptions influence the way you communicate with them?
Influenced by the kind of stereotypes outlined in Activity 6, you might expect the family to be living in a poor part of town close to other African–Caribbean families. You might expect that the young woman’s father is not living with the family and is not part of the picture. You would probably expect the mother to be furious with her daughter, and you might be on the look-out for signs of physical abuse. Paradoxically, you might also expect a degree of understanding from the mother, as she probably had the same experience of teenage pregnancy. Given the apparently matriarchal nature of African–Caribbean families, you might be keen to speak to the young woman separately from her mother, in case she felt intimidated. When you interview the young woman, you might expect to discover she has slept around and not used contraception, but also that she is reluctant to keep the baby. As a consequence, you might arrive prepared to give contraceptive and abortion advice, or offer a referral to a family planning clinic.
In other words, the generalised assumptions that you brought to this individual case would shape your attitudes and actions in very real and practical ways. At this point, note that, as the authors of this course, we debated the dangers inherent in setting this activity. There is a risk that a case study including a pregnant African–Caribbean young woman may itself perpetuate certain stereotypes. As you will see, the next activity attempts to challenge this kind of stereotypical thinking, but negative images are difficult to dislodge.
In the next activity you will reflect on what might be the impact of negative stereotypes on people at whom they are directed.