“Men are scum” “The Ijebu tribe are stingy and diabolic” “Ekiti indigenes are willful” and every other generalization. These generalizations become very dangerous stereotypes.
Stereotypes are a generalization that a group of people behaves in a particular manner or there’s a behavioral pattern associated with them. This mistaken idea of people or a person is wrong. Just because we have had a bad experience with one or two persons that might be of a particular group doesn’t mean every member of that group will give you that impression. The wrong of one person shouldn’t affect your perception of the entire group. We should learn to treat a group of people as individuals with different personality traits and not just assume they all behave the same way. Even twins or multiple children don’t act the same way.
So what does stereotype do to you? It makes you have a strong bias, and in most cases, it is against them. Like Ore on Twitter said, we all have biases.
Bias is a prejudice for or against a group of people which is usually in an unfair way. In most cases, bias is learned. Growing up, there’s this particular tribe they told you are drunkards or greedy or diabolic. It sticks to our mind and we see every one of them like that. Bias usually allows us to make irrational decisions or give wrong judgments about a certain group of people or beliefs. We have several types of bias and every one of these types is of adverse effects because we make subjective conclusions with them. Biases make us blind to reality and this is often dangerous because we tend to take actions in an illogical way. They becloud our sense of reasoning and judgment. Like I mentioned earlier, we all have biases and we need to be honest about it. When we are, we have to consciously lay it aside whenever we want to make decisions or judge a matter.
Like Anchoring- one of the types of bias, it makes us jump into conclusions early on in decision making based on an initial picture and doesn’t make us see other possibilities in a situation. This is very wrong.
Racism is an effect of stereotypes. We all can see how the world has been negatively affected by this evil. A group of people is been infringed on their basic human rights just because of a wrong impression about them -an unfair bias- most especially because of their skin color. You can see how wrong this is. There are several Bible verses against stereotypes and prejudices; Gal 3:28 says, “There is neither Greek nor Jew, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither female nor male, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” (ESV). Other Bible verses are Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:11, John 7:24, James 2:1–12. There are many others. This is to say that God frowns at stereotypes and believers should not make decisions based on them.
If there is any bias you have against any group, allow love to influence your disposition towards them. Let love be your preconceived thought towards these people. I know what’s on your mind, you think this is absurd, ‘why would I love someone I have never met before, especially as she is from this particular tribe?’ or, that it is cliché, you have heard this phrase times without number. But why don’t you think about it and try it? You might fail at it once but you can keep at it. Let love guide you. This is also speaking to me, many times I’ve been shitty towards people but I’m intentional on becoming better.
Let us start the change from you and me. I know Stereotypes cannot be completely eradicated, but we should make efforts on our parts in curbing it and treating people as individuals with different traits without prejudice and let our judgments be fair.
Let love prevail instead.