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The danger of the single story
an article by Sergio Peņuņuri and Gabriela Contreras

The Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, speaks about the importance of having a complete vision of other cultures or persons before making a judgement about them. This is due to the fact that many Americans, Africans and Asians are fed very rigid stereotypes about other ethnic groups; publicity, family and the entire society give us strong ideas that are often wrong. We believe that to reach tolerance in every way, we must emphasize a global vision of knowledge about foreign cultures and manners.

click on photo to enlarge

The Nigerian novelist focus on the importance of reading as an effective tool to dissolve ignorance. Through reading about others, we can become informed in a straight way about social and cultural reality and not allow an uninformed society to influence us and create stereotype images in our mental context. The writer mentions that an "equilibrium of stories" can give us a 360 degree vision with respect to other peoples in the world, while stereotypes create a single story with a narrow "truth."

As Mexicans we identify with this situation because we have often been considered as lazy, drunk and always wearing a “sombrero” when it`s not true. This makes us consider if we may not have stereotypes about Africans and Asians as well.

(Click here for a Spanish version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

Where do stereotypes come from?, And how can we overcome them?

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This discussion question applies to the following articles:

The danger of the single story
El peligro de una solo historia
Building competences to fight hate speech online

This report was posted on 02/22/2012.