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30 April 2019
Word Count: 1,382
Wary and Hairy: How Zootopia and At 13, I Didn’t Expect My Teacher To Be Afraid of Me
Discuss Biases and Social Justice
People have a tendency to be afraid of unfamiliar things. This a main reason the dark is
seen as so loathsome to many--it is not the presence of darkness that is scary, but rather the
unfamiliarity of what lies within it. This notion applies not just to objects, but to people as well.
It can be very easy to see something unfamiliar in another person and react with fear. Zootopia ,
an animated children’s movie released in 2016, explores this notion through the interactions
between predator and prey. The movie takes place in Zootopia, a world in which all animals live
together in harmony, in spite of predator-prey relationships. The story follows Judy Hopps, a
rabbit who recently moved to Zootopia, and how she struggles with stereotypes about her while
also combatting biases of her own. However, of course, there are real-world examples of people
struggling with fear and bias outside of the movies. Haneen Oriquat’s article, At 13, I Didn’t
Expect My Teacher To Be Afraid of Me, details her personal experiences with stereotyping as a
Muslim American. Despite being different mediums, both Zootopia and A
t 13, I Didn’t Expect
My Teacher To Be Afraid of Me discuss implicit bias, stereotyping based on appearance, and the
fear that is often associated with the unknown to prove that recognizing biases is the best way to
Implicit bias is categorized as the notion that people (or in this case, animals) have biases
that they may not even be aware of. These biases are not typically created for no reason--they are
formulated as a result of past experiences and societal views. Implicit biases are demonstrated in
each work, despite being vastly different mediums. As previously mentioned, Hopps combats
biases against smaller animals constantly at her job and is generally treated as someone who
defies biases. This does not, however, mean that Hopps has immunity to having biases of her
own. When Hopps is preparing to leave her small hometown and start her life in Zootopia, her
parents give her a can of fox repellant, stating that it is “safe for her to have” when she travels to
a new city (Howard). It is not clear to Hopps at this time, but she and her family are
demonstrating their implicit bias towards foxes. Based upon her personal interactions with foxes
as well as the opinions of her immediate family, Hopps has a negative bias about foxes that she
does not even recognize until much later in the movie. This does not, as evidenced by the movie,
make Hopps a lesser character, but rather demonstrates that everybody has biases--whether they
are aware of them or not. Similarly, in her article At 13, I Didn’t Expect My Teacher To Be
Afraid of Me, Oriquat explores how it feels to be the subject of implicit bias. After finishing her
eighth-grade year with her teacher, she finds out that her teacher “was scared when [Oriquat]
walked into her classroom” based on how she was dressed, stating she was afraid that Oriquat
would be rebellious (3). Oriquat’s teacher worries she will be a rebellious student not because of
her temperament but because of what the teacher believes about Muslims in a post-9/11 society.
Like Hopps, her teacher had no ill will, but simply had a bias that was founded more in myth
than in truth. These examples prove that biases, whether they are conscious or not, exist in all
people and can potentially be harmful if not acknowledged. Of course, it is difficult to admit that
everyone has biases, and some people will say that the assertion that all people have inherent
biases is false by using themselves as examples of people who do not have any biases and are not
racist. That is not the case. As demonstrated in these examples, biases are unintentional and
inherent. There is nothing wrong with having biases, as long as they are acknowledged. Biases
are not indicative of racism, they are merely the way human nature works. Nobody is completely
free of biases and it is actually more healthy to recognize them than to deny that they exist at all.
Implicit biases also go hand-in-hand with stereotyping based on appearance, which is a
concept explored in both works. Oriquat is one of the few Muslim girls at her middle and high
school and thus is forced into the “token minority” role. While interacting with her peers, she
notes that there is a constant fear of “being expected to represent all Muslim women, Muslims,
and Islam” (Oriquat 3). This is an immense amount of pressure to put on anybody, yet alone a
thirteen-year-old who does not have the strongest grasp on their own identity quite yet. By
stereotyping Oriquat, her teachers and peers are erasing her identity as an individual and instead
are lumping her in with a large group and stereotyping her. Respectively, Wilde represents all
foxes and predators without Hopps knowing anything about him. While on a gondola ride to
catch a criminal, Wilde tells Hopps a glimpse into his past: he tried to join the Junior Ranger
Scouts despite being a fox and was rejected, making him realize that “the world’s only gonna see
a fox as shifty and untrustworthy” (Howard). Nick’s backstory when he was a boy shows that
there is more to his character than what Judy could see, causing her to view him in a different
light and realize that she has been letting her previous bad experiences with foxes affect her
current relationship without even knowing Wilde. Judging somebody without really knowing
them, whether intentional or not, is stereotyping based upon how someone looks as opposed to
how they are. In each case, the person (or rabbit) with the stereotype thought they knew
everything about the other, only to realize they did not know them at all.
Since only knowing somebody on the surface level means that one does not really know
them at all, it is understandable that there would be fear associated with this lack of knowledge.
Becoming familiar with the thing that one fears is an effective way of curbing that fear, as
evidenced through the lessons learned in both of these works. As previously mentioned, Oriquat
dealt with fear from her teachers due to a stigma about people of the Muslim faith. Despite these
negative views, her teachers spent the year educating her and found her to be “a student that was
studious, hungry for knowledge and books, and respectfully quiet” (Oriquat 2). Once Oriquat’s
teachers got to know her, they realized that they had no reason to feel the way they did about her
and understood that their biases were based completely in fiction. It is very difficult to be afraid
of something that is familiar, explaining why Oriquat’s teachers only had to get to know her to
realize there was nothing to be afraid of. There are two examples of this phenomenon in
Zootopia: Judy’s larger coworkers dismiss her as “nothing but a meter maid” and in return, Judy
is wary of predators. Each party is hesitant to trust the other because they do not know enough
about each other. Once Judy demonstrates that she is a capable police officer and predators show
that they are willing to set aside differences and work towards the great good, there is no more
fear or mistrust. These people looking at their fear and realizing it is not based in truth is a very
important part of growth, and it is significant that in both of these works people have to interact
with something that scares them in order to realize that it is not actually scary after all.
These works may be different and focus on separate issues, but they also tackle many
different topics of social justice and ultimately conclude that biases are inherent and that
recognizing and confronting biases is the most healthy and effective way to eradicate them.
These works assert that biases are normal but allowing them to fester and grow more powerful
and fearsome is not. By trying to avoid stereotyping based on appearance and judging without
truly knowing, biases can be confronted and, ideally eradicated. Society is not perfect, but it can
be a much better place if people get to know before they judge.
Howard, Byron and Rich Moore, directors. Zootopia. Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2016.
Oriquat, Haneen. “At 13, I Didn't Expect My Teacher To Be Afraid Of Me.” Manifest Station, 20
17 April 2017
Dreams vs. Real World
“Welcome to Zootopia, where anyone can be anything.” It may sound like this Zootopia
place is a dreamland where all your dreams come true, but the fact is, it is the complete opposite
of that. The famous movie Zootopia, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, covers some of
the major issues that our society is currently facing but in the form of cartooned animals instead
of human beings. Zootopia is about a female bunny named Judy that has been dreaming about
being a cop and works very hard to become one, but once she does, she gets assigned for parking
duty because she is viewed as a “dumb bunny”. Judy meets Nicholas the fox and they work
together to solve a mystery. The article, “At 13, I Didn’t Expect My Teacher to Be Afraid of
Me” written by Haneen Oriqat, also discusses the problems of identity, prejudice, discrimination,
and stereotyping that Haneen faced when she decided to go to school wearing a hijab. The movie
Zootopia and Oriqat’s article teach the audience how difficult it is to become what you want to
be and to achieve success when you are being judged by your appearance.
Prejudice is one of the problems that was presented in the in the movie and the article.
The meaning of prejudice is when someone has a negative evaluation of a certain group of
people and reject the idea of interacting with the individuals of that group. For example,
Nicholas, the fox, went to buy a jumbo sized ice pop for his “fake son” from the elephant’s ice-
cream shop, but the elephant cashier’s response was very rude and told Nicholas that he won’t
sell it to him because he is not an elephant, and they also have a sign that says “we reserve the
right to refuse service.” Another example is when Officer Judy Hopps asks Chief Bogo to listen
to Nick as he is a key witness, and Chief Bogo refuses to believe Nick because he is a fox and
foxes are known to be non-trustworthy. Unfortunately, prejudice exists in our world and it
happens every day and it is affecting everyone. I admit that I am one of those people who judge
others based on how they look or how they dress. But who doesn’t? I think we all are prejudice
and it cannot be eliminated. The problem isn’t about the word prejudice, the problem is with the
people themselves. We all judge and there is nothing we can do to permanently stop, but we can
lessen it by getting to know the person, just like what Judy did with Nick. Judy was bullied by a
fox when she was a little girl and she should know better than anyone that foxes are unsafe; but
instead, she made Nick her partner and she came to realize later on that Nicholas is one of the
greatest people she has ever met.
Discrimination is another issue that was shown in Zootopia. Discrimination is when there
is an unequal treatment between two or more groups. For example, Judy was the top of her class
and Chief Bogo assigned her to do parking tickets because he doesn’t think that a cute, small
bunny would be able to handle a real case. Instead, Chief Bogo decides to have the “larger”
animals take care of those cases even though there were plenty of cases to take care of. Another
example is when Judy was chasing a thief and a coworker yells “You should wait for a real cop”
because they don’t consider Judy as part of the Police Department. All animals believe that a
bunny is incapable of protecting Zootopia because of their size and look, especially predators,
they think that bunnies always have to be carrots farmers because that is where they belonged all
this time. Discrimination is a very serious problem in our society and it has a negative impact on
the people because it creates grudge and hatred among all individuals that are different than you.
Making false assumptions about certain groups and treating people unfairly based on those
assumptions is very dangerous and leads to a corrupt society. And in order to stop it, each one of
us need to learn how to love and accept people of all kind regardless of their backgrounds or
ethnicity to make the world a better place.
Identity issue is the main argument in Oriqat’s article. Identity is what shapes who we
are, which includes our culture, our beliefs, and our origins. Oriqat struggled with her identity
because she is a Muslim, especially after the horrific incident of September 11. Even her high
school teacher thought that Haneen is a troublemaker. ““Honestly, I was worried when you
walked into my class the first day of school. I thought, this girl must be a rebel. She’s going to
cause trouble.” Those first words almost caused me to miss the end of her answer when she went
on to tell me point blank that she was wrong.” (Oriqat).
After watching the news about the little boy, Ahmed, and his new invention that was mistaken to
be a bomb, she remembered how people reacted when she started wearing hijab in 8th grade.
Oriqat was speechless when she heard what her teacher thought of her at first, and that is when
she came to know that anything she does will be a representation of all Muslim women around
the world, which scared her the most. It is very frustrating when people generalize about your
identity and judge you based on what some ignorant of the same religion or county does. Every
race, every religion, and every country have good people and bad people, and everyone knows
that. But then again, some people act like they don’t know because they are close minded. I
believe that some people refuse to accept that fact because it is more convenient for them and it
is “easier” to just keep believing what they believe in.
In conclusion, the world may look peaceful and wonderful from the outside, but it is
much more complicated than that. A large number of people have their goals and dreams crushed
because of the racial issues in our world, which makes it ten times harder for them to prove
themselves. We all have our flaws and we all make mistakes, but the key is to try to become a
better version of yourself. Some people say “you are what you eat” as a way of motivation when
you try to achieve a happy and healthy lifestyle, I say “you are what you read” to try to motivate
others to educate and enlighten their brains about other cultures and religions. People should
learn to never judge a book by its cover and to keep thinking in a positive way because as
Zootopia said, our world is not perfect, but we all should try our best to make it a better one, one
step at a time.
Works Cited Page
Zootopia. Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, performances by Ginnifer Goodwin,
Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Disney, 2016.
Oriqat, Haneen. “At, 13 I didn’t expect my teacher to be afraid of me”
20 April 2017
It’s ironic that we live in a world where we are told that men and women are equals. The
only way to appreciate others is if you appreciate yourself. Treat everyone the way you want to
be treated. These are all cliché sayings. They do hold some value, but most people don’t have the
intellect to appreciate the real meaning behind them. Feminism is, “the theory of the political,
economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam-Webster). That right there is the
dictionary definition. Somehow that idea got twisted somewhere down the line. The
result being that feminists nowadays fight to have women be superior to males. It’s sad
to say there is no such thing as equality anymore. Unfortunately, it’s battle of the sexes.
Anything that must do with genders is an uphill battle. Women are exploited as sex
objects, men are pigs, and it goes on. Feminism has so many various levels to it. In
Zootopia, there is all kinds of sexism, prejudice, and body shaming types of themes.
Officer Hops is a small bunny that wants to be a police officer. All the animals in
Zootopia make fun of her and shame her for doing what she wants. Despite all her
obstacles, Officer Hops becomes a police officer paying no attention to the hate
surrounding her. Femininity doesn’t define a person, what defines a person is their
ability to do whatever they need to do in the best way possible. Zootopia clearly shows
that gender or size shouldn’t stop or hold anyone back from doing what they want. This
idea is reiterated in other various articles. My Reaction to Mad Max: Fury Road and the Utter
Perfection That Is Imperator Furiosa by L.J. Vaughn discusses how female roles don not
always have to be insignificant. She also touches on how disabilities or other limiting factors
shouldn’t stop anyone from doing what they want. The Startling Humanism of Mad Max: Fury
Road by Maria Bustillos highlights how women can be as equally strong and important as men.
She points out how men and women both need each other, thus we should no minimize one
gender to another. Body Shaming in an Age of Social Media by Carolyn Abate touches on how
harmful body shaming can be to an individual. Body shaming does nothing but tear someone
down. Unfortunately, women are common victims of this and is also evident in Zootopia. Lastly,
Mad Max: Fury Road’s’ Feminine Mystique: A Dystopian Tale of Reproductive Rights by
Nick Schager discusses the rights that women have to their own bodies and thoughts. His
ideas compare well to those of Zotopia. These works provide a good understanding for
the basis of the movie by addressing how people should not overlook females as weak
due to size or gender.
Almost anywhere you go, you’re able to look around and see people of all
shapes, sizes, and gender. Every person always has at least one defining feature. All of
this sounds so positive and nice. Makes you think, wow we live in a world with so much
diversity to appreciate. Wrong. Instead of being half glass full people, most of us are
half glass empty people. We look around at the people surrounding us and judge ...
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