“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story...The consequence of a single story is this, it robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different instead of how we are similar." – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The single story exists everywhere. Everyone stereotypes but the problem exists when people use those stereotypes to judge or classify a person, culture, society, etc. Why do you think people stereotype and what do you think are the dangers with stereotypes? Could stereotyping ever be for a positive reason or have a positive outcome?
I think people stereotype for several reasons: FEAR, LAZINESS, UNEDUCATED, OR DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.
Oftentimes, people develop those stereotypes based upon family values and beliefs. It only makes sense right, that as children we spend a good majority of time with our parents and develop a similar viewpoint or value system that they have. So if a family has an issue with a certain trait, value or culture, they generate a viewpoint of people who express that characteristic, culture, etc. As we continue to cognitively develop, we add to our values and beliefs based upon the things that we learn from our friends, peers, the news media and society.
What is important is that people need to challenge their beliefs to ensure that they are not forming a single story. College is one of the great times when people can challenge these beliefs. As they come to college, students begin to test their values (values that they have developed and their parents have fostered for 18 years). It is here where college students can interact with different cultures, different viewpoints, different ideas. After mixing their values with this new information, hopefully what emerges is a new or revised viewpoint. College allows for that cognitive dissonance.
But what happens if someone does not go to college or someone does not have that chance to experience that dissonance on a belief? How do we effectively interact with them to help promote dissonance? I believe that representation is extremely important. I believe that being able to show people that difference is not bad and that just because someone is different does not make them a bad person or an inferior member of society.
We, as humans, are Cognitive masters in that our brains our wired to think and think and think. So because we think a lot, we like to compartmentalize things or categorize things because it makes learning and recalling information easier. The problem with this is that once we categorize or stereotype we very often forget to go back and make sure that our categories live up to their stereotype. It is important that we are constantly analyzing and reevaluating our thoughts, impressions and stereotypes to make sure that we haven't created a single story.
What are you doing to avoid creating a single story?