Growing up in Port Harcourt, the Southern part of Nigeria, I realized that every human has an identity they are born with, whether positive or negative. I see identity as some label a person gets when he or she is born from a particular tribe or religion, without their consent, of course.
Unknown to them, at first, this label by others will follow them for the rest of their lives.
No doubt, one’s ethnicity has a way of influencing a person’s actions, beliefs, and even patterns throughout the person’s lifetime. But this does not mean everyone should be described in the same breath as others, just because they belong to a particular region or ethnic group.
Even though not much attention is given to stereotypical statements or people, it has become a problem amidst different tribes/cultures and religions.
The impact Stereotypes have made in society are plenitude and unacceptable. Some people have stereotyped different people in diverse areas in Nigeria to be all the same or act in a certain way. Most people, by default, believe that the behavioral patterns of the said localities are the same within and outside of the country.
For instance, most people believe those from the Northern part of Nigeria are either tribalistic, terrorists or religious extremists. On the other hand, the Westerners are tagged as lazy, loud and dirty; the Easterners are stereotyped to be promiscuous, crafty, dishonest and greedy, while the Southerners are easily referred to as uneducated, violent and fetish people.
Stereotypes exist because more people are accepting this as a norm in society and do not see anything wrong with it. Generalization has caused more harm than good because it doesn’t give room for rationality, but rather to prejudices. The more it happens, it would eventually become absorbed and passed onto generations that are unaware of the stereotype that has been prevalent before their existence.
In retrospect, there could have been a better way to avoid stereotyping a particular person or tribe, but people have conformed to these abnormalities because of an encounter with some persons from the said region.
A quick question: How would you feel attending an interview for your dream job and getting stereotyped by the Human Resources Officer for being an indigene of your community?
Because of an encounter with your tribesmen, hence, everyone is tagged the same.
Stereotype causes stigmatization, low self-esteem, bias(bigotry), identity rejection and chaos in most severe cases. However, a decreased inference can increase self-definition/esteem, equity, and a society devoid of negative social structures that are detrimental to the overall progress of society.
My two cents.
To maximize the well-being of every human we come in contact with, I highly recommend that we stop stereotyping them by their tribe or culture and give everyone a chance to prove themselves because humans are defined by the content of their character and consequent actions and not by their tribe, culture or religion.
Have you been stereotyped before? How did you tackle it? Let us know in the comment section!!