I came across this meme a couple weeks ago.
So, if you live in Portsmouth, how does this make you feel? And if you don’t live in Portsmouth, I’d ask you the same thing.
Bottom line is, “stereotypes suck.”
Case in point: My wife went to a comedy show this past weekend, and there was a skit that poked fun at the various neighborhoods and cities in the Hampton Roads region. It poked fun at the people who live there. People from Ghent in Norfolk were portrayed as “yuppies, well-to-do;” people from Virginia Beach were portrayed as”self absorbed beach bums;” and people from Portsmouth were portrayed as “white trash.”
I’m sure it was funny…because anything that funny hits a bit too close to home. It’s funny because stereotypes do have a tinge of truth to them….and a whole lot of misrepresentation as well.
Another example: I was talking to my wrestlers a couple weeks ago about fairness and affirmative action (yes, high school wrestlers) and one of them made an offhanded comment that crime originates with African-Americans. As we discussed, and I challenged their stereotypes.
“So, when you think of Portsmouth, what comes to your mind?”
They replied, “Black people, crime, drugs and shootings.”
And I replied back, “Do you think that’s actually what happens there all the time? Is that what people are like there?”
And they replied, “Probably not.”
Here’s the things about stereotypes: they mask was is really true about a place and the people that live there. They tell a different story, one based in incidents that originate from a small percentage of the population. Stereotypes mask reality….and the stories of the people who live there. They mask what is good about cities and the people who live there.
Portsmouth is no different. Like the picture above, it gets a bad rap, and all because of stereotypes. But there’s lots of good in Portsmouth: good people, good restaurants, good communities, good organizations doing good things. And perhaps we’d do well to highlight those, especially since these tunnel tolls that are now in place are discouraging even more people to come see the good in P-Town.
On that note, for those of you reading out there: What’s good about P-Town in your mind? What restaurant, what neighborhoods, what organizations are awesome in your mind? What should people go check out in Portsmouth? And, what makes you proud to live in Portsmouth?
We’d love to have you share…….because like I said, “stereotypes suck.”