“she’s a slayqueen, she must be an airhead”
“A Muslim? They are bloody terrorists”
“wealthy people are snobs”
“Black people, especially Nigerians, are conmen”
“oh, he wears black all the time, he’s a Goth”
“Yoruba people are dirty and local”
“He talks to no one, he’s anti-social”
What do these statements have in common. If you haven’t guessed it yet? They are stereotyoes; Societal labels if you want.
We are all guilty of compartmentalizing people and putting them in a box. We forget that people are unique and have a lot of qualities that make them up; But when we think we have them figured out by clumping them with a group of people by giving them a label, we often lose the opportunity to get to know them. Sometimes stereotypes prevents us from really knowing someone.
That weirdo who is antisocial is a shy person who finds it hard making friends or they have a situation that prevents them from doing such. That slayqueen is a hardworker who is also a brainiac, as well as a genius. That Nigerian is a honest man with very good credentials who just wants to live without that label. That rich snob is scared of being friendly because people want her for her money. That black wearing Goth probably has no other colour to wear. And that Muslim family, they are peace loving and they even trained their children as such.
We think we have people figured out but we don’t even know their back story. You might not realize that you have something in common which can help you become long time friends or allies. Sometimes, our judgement is not needed. People need to be understood.
So today, before you compartmentalize people and place labels on them, try to know them first and you’ll be surprised at what you find.