"Oh, you Danes are all communists."
I was just one person but was treated as a representative for my group - in this case my fellow countrymen. Although this was jokingly tossed out there by a friend, the emotion it elicited was quite strong and negative. It informed me to how this type of interaction might land on other people, something I hadn’t given much thought before.
I was being profiled.
If I could feel this strongly in spite of Danes generally are well respected in the world, imagine how it must feel feel if members of your group often are treated disrespectfully - and perhaps your group is even described with an epithet.
This situation - treating an individual as a representative for the person's social group - is among many other dicey situations covered by effectiveinfluence.org (from which I have taken the illustration to this post.)
The page you get to using the link above has small icons and when you hover over each, the interactive model describes situations where discussions often go awry, f.ex. when people discuss across group boundaries.
The explanations on the website address racial, gender, and generational issues, among them the how processes that seem objective to most people can adversely impact members of minority groups. As the organization behind the website is devoted to listening and communicating with authenticity, we can piggyback on their many years of experience.
For most of us, as much as we want to see a society with a level playing field, we can't change the way the justice system works, remove societal inequality, or assure equal rights to medical care. But we can all try to be more intentional about how we show up for each other and how we communicate.
And when we step in it - and we all do from time to time - it helps to apologize sincerely so both parties can move on.