Who knew that the Irish love Guinness and a tin whistle?
That Jamaicans bump and grind 90 per cent of their day?
That Texans can never decide whether to draw their wallet or their firearm?
Or that a Bermudian’s version of soul food rarely sways from a soup bowl of mayonnaise with a fish sandwich in the middle?
All lazy stereotypes, of course — although show me a Guinness-hating Irishman and I’ll Riverdance for you. Stereotype enforced, confessed and then — boom! — reinforced again.
A few of you out there — those who haven’t now turned to the horoscopes – may have smiled at some of the above. Does that make you prejudiced? Not necessarily. Taken with tongue firmly in cheek, stereotypes can act as a celebration of identity, an endearing tease at yourself or your world neighbours.
But look – as every Australian sportsman ever interviewed on TV would say – there are dangers with investing too much in these one-dimensional characters because, of course, that is all they are.
Not every Irish person drinks the black stuff. Heck, some even prefer the electric guitar to the fiddle. And of course not every Jamaican instinctively shakes their backside when a tune comes on the radio, although reports from Soca v Reggae suggest failure to do so is classed as a fail.
Some Texans have been known to occasionally leave their guns at home while I’ve heard chicken often replaces fish at a Pembroke dinner table. I’m now being flippant and smug — some would say very English — but you get the drift, and see the danger, of overusing these labels, especially when it veers into outright racism.
Take this quote overheard at the World Rugby Classic: “I knew I was at the right bus stop because all the white people got off.”
It made me wonder what two hugely impressive young men I interviewed a week earlier would have made of that.
Here’s what the first told me: “I used to be a fat boy. I love the bonding within the team and the aggressiveness in rugby.”
And the second: “I found something I love and I’m now into it — rugby is just amazing.”
These guys — Josh Deallie and Keyanho Bean respectively — are just two of the talented players emerging from the Bermuda rugby scene, which is working hard to spread the game on the island. Both players shone for the national 7s team in Cayman recently and rugby is helping them thrive as individuals. And, yes, they are both black.