This week the columnists talk about the trouble with stereotypes.

Danny: Stereotypes are dangerous to a community looking for commonalities and bridges. Lumping an entire group of people into one expectation is damaging for all sides, but most detrimental to the person who buys into it.

Assuming one person of the same cultural background is no different than another from the same group shows ignorance and breeds abhorrence. It can be crippling to think that you, as a Latino, or whatever, are limited to a preconceived expectation.

Sure, opportunity and resources can differ, but we all have choice and freedom. Don't live up to the stereotype that is set for you by the antipathy of the discriminating few. Take charge and set your own hope and probability.

My grandfather wasn't forced to be a street sweeper because of how someone perceived him; he chose to do what he could based on his own level of empowerment. My dad was able to make a better life because of his father, and I am able to make a better life because of mine.

Catherine: We limit ourselves when we promote stereotypes. Is Mexico the land of laborers? No. There are wealthy business owners and intellectuals. Let's be honest. Some of the laborers we see every day are intellectuals who will one day be wealthy business owners.

Stereotypes are based on an element of truth. Unfortunately, this means stereotypes are fortified when you meet someone who fits within the lines.

We grow up hearing our parents refer to groups of people as if they are all the same. Parents, I encourage you to pass along the truth that every person in every group is unique. There are intellectual hillbillies. There are faithful Latino men. There are elderly people who still are expert drivers. Let us all remember that everyone is uniquely made and defies the labels we are so quick to put on him or her.

Lily: Stereotypes are only as dangerous as people make them out to be. Not every Latino resembles the Taco Bell Chihuahua, not only white people watch NASCAR, not every African-American eats fried chicken, and not every Asian is an awful driver.

What are we, in third grade?! Well if that's the case, the next time some idiot tries to lump you into a category, just kindly and maturely respond, "I know you are, but what am I?" Let's all just grow up.

Contact: [email protected] or Consejos, The Dallas Morning News, P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265 You can also visit to access previous columns and to comment on the Consejos blog.

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