I worked for an international organization in Washington, DC and a friend, Veronica, from back home joined a couple of years after me. One day we ha the following conversation:
Veronica: Aren’t African Americans the main ethnic group that lives in DC?
Me: Yes, they are.
Veronica: Then how come African Americans are not hired by our employer? The only blacks I see are from Africa and other places.
Me: There are several African Americans who work here.
Veronica: How come I have never seen even one? I have looked around and have not seen anyone with tattoos, dreadlocks, sagging pants or one whose every other word is swearing.
Me: Do you know Hector from IT?
Veronica: I know him. Actually he is the one who helped set up my computer and he is very good. What about him?
Me: He is African American. [I did not see the need to mention that Hector had recently cut off his dreadlocks :)]
Veronica: What? Hector is African American? I don’t believe it. He is a real professional, wears his clothes right and is courteous. Are you sure, Zambian Lady?
Me: Not only am I sure, but he told me so himself.
Veronica: I would never have guessed! The only African Americans I have seen are thugs and good-for-nothings on TV.
It was interesting to see that once again, someone had believed stereotypes she had seen on TV. I was however, glad that Veronica now knew that there are plenty of educated and well behaved African Americans. Like in every other race/ethnic group, there are both the good, the bad and the ugly among African Americans.