Home > American Society, World Issues > They all look the same to me

They all look the same to me

The phrase that stuck with me most from the movie, “The Hurt Locker” is the statement by one of the soldiers about the Iraqi’s.  “They all look the same to me.”  I had heard it a thousand times before both in conversation with others and in movies.  In this movie and in this context, however, it struck me with the truth that soldiers in most battles are completely ignorant of the enemy they are fighting.

In my personal experience with the phrase they all look the same to me, it is exclusively spoken by a person who has had zero experience, interaction, friendship, or prior conflict with that race or culture.  I heard it from small town Midwest Americans about African Americans.  There were only a token amount in their schools, in their churches, and none in their neighborhoods.  They grew up without experience of the dozens of unique faces, body shapes and cultural nuances of African Americans.  They simply “all looked the same”.

I heard it from businessmen in large cities across the United States about Asians.  These businessmen are just now getting their first taste of business directly with Asian countries and they have no idea how to tell Japanese from Chinese from Tibetan, from Philippine.  They were completely ignorant of the vast differences facial features, body types and in culture.

The statement, they all look the same to me, implies that the individual in incapable of refraining from stereotyping the group, whether it is Asian or African.  One attribute or act is generalized across the entire segment of the global population.  The attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II brought the stereotype of “gook” and “chink” to that entire segment of the world.  The time of slavery, where America enslaved a few tribes of Western Africa brought the stereotype of “nigger” to every dark skinned human on the planet.

The Philippines were a U.S. ally in World War II.  Most ignorant Americans still refer to them as gooks.  The Aborigines of Australia  is on a completely different continent than the African slaves used in the United States, but to most ignorant Americans they are still niggers.  Only when I spent time with and came to make friends with Middle Easterner’s from Syria, Palestine, and Egypt did I begin to see the differences and lose my own ignorance.  Only when I became friends with Koreans, Japanese and Chinese students at college did I lose my ignorance of the vast differences in features and habits.

There is no curriculum in any public school in the United States that teaches the nuances of every culture in the world.  Everything in American public schools is taught from a white perspective.  Even in the natural opportunities to show off cultures, the faces are replaced with white faces.  Even Jesus is portrayed as a white individual in American public schools.

As long as we think that they all look the same, we will believe that they all act the same, and are all to blame for any reason that our leaders give us to go to war and kill them.  As easy as it is to blame our leaders for manipulating us into war…it is time to reflect on our own ignorance as the catalyst for accepting war against cultures we know nothing about.

Help I am ItiA

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