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Stereotype as a Method for Categorizing Society


Stereotypes and labels are weeds that grow on land called society. People face and support prejudice on their own, thus distorting the global representation of communities, ethnic groups, and minorities. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian-American writer who personally experiences stereotypes related to African descent, cultural preferences, and expected behavior patterns. The author says that the single story, which describes a particular group or country, threatens the incorrect perception of these personalities worldwide. In particular, childhood and adolescence in Nigeria do not allow Adichie to know about world pop culture or the usual eating habits according to developed countries’ inhabitants. Besides, the global arena’s factor of strength creates biased judgments about those places that do not have sufficient financial and historical potential compared to less developed regions. In other words, society is consuming one single story that Africa is a starving and devastated place that continually suffers from disasters and severe poverty. Adichie’s main argument is that this opinion is based on the views of white writers who have not personally encountered the stories of every inhabitant of the continent.

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Culture as a Multifaceted History

The ethnic origin of a person reflects the traditions, worldview, and values of a particular region. It is an integral part of the cultural heritage that most nations have. Adichie makes the argument that non-African people perceive the continent as a single structure with no variation within. For example, European and American writers refer to this part of the world as a place of tragedy, hunger, and primitiveness (Adichie). It is a necessary consequence of the single story, namely the entrenched stereotype based on the primary analysis of the region. The speaker was born and lived for nineteen years in Nigeria in a middle-class family and had all the necessary tools for a healthy life. Moreover, the woman entered an American university and was passionate about literature while trying her writing skills independently. All of these facts contradict society’s preconceived notions of Africans as an illiterate and militant community in which academic skills and harmony are impossible. The reason for this intercultural relationship is the standardization of characteristics due to power.

The global political arena determines inequality based on historical, economic, scientific, and many other factors that influence strength balance. It is essential to understand that developed countries can monitor social situations in other regions in order to benefit from this in the long term through cooperation. Cultural diversity also depends on these relationships, since the perception of representatives of different communities can be distorted in the perspective of global dominators. For example, Latino and Hispanic students are under-represented and distorted in the American education system, as their cultural values are shattered on the rocks of the host country’s traditions (Rodriguez et al. 16). In other words, the power demonstrated by some regions is capable of endowing a particular image with the only truthful person’s status, although it is not so. This is the argument that Adichie used in the analysis of the causes of cultural stereotypes. History has shown that African society is shown to be catastrophic and illiterate because writers and sociologists have provided the same story for centuries.

Stereotype Destroys Human Potential

Sooner or later, most people are faced with a preconceived notion of society, based on an ingrained inference about the characteristics of cultural and ethnic groups. In particular, it does not allow the individual to reveal creative or professional potential, since the global community can expect radically opposite skills. It also applies to the knowledgeable assessment of a student’s ability in their fields of activity and daily life. The speaker faced a lack of understanding by the American roommate, as the girl believed that a Nigerian citizen could not know pop music and be able to use a stove (Adichie). The shock that the USA resident experienced shows that each person knowingly demonstrates the image of citizens of their countries, which predetermines preferences, tastes, literacy level, and career potential. Adichie calls this the boundaries of one story, in which social roles are deliberately divided according to the ethnicity of individuals.

Migrants Remain Assimilated Guests

Moving to another country for educational, professional, or personal reasons is a psychologically challenging process because immersion in a new culture takes time and mental toughness. People always reflect their region’s ethnic characteristics, combined with individual experience, which creates a unique mix of worldview, values, and behavioral patterns. It overlaps with Adichie’s misunderstanding of the American roommate, although migration is a broader concept. It has been noted that the idea of cultural trauma defines a person’s experience following adverse life events associated with historical resources and behaviors in the home region (Chakvetadze et al. 41). Consequently, the gap between the shock periods and their consequences between representatives of various communities leads to misunderstanding and integrating a common history into international relationships.

Regional Problems Do Not Disappear

Although stereotypical judgments about countries and continents do not reflect the exact state of affairs, they may have some truth. It was noted that although Nigerians are talented writers, musicians, journalists, and others, the region is still plagued by demographic and infrastructure crises (Adichie). People are dying from low-quality medicine and lack of water in fire engines, which is in stark contrast to the world’s developed countries. However, these problems cannot characterize Nigeria as a whole, as it is biased and ignores the social environment’s positive aspects. It is essential to understand that any state is not supreme and faces dilemmas that can also be long-term. It makes people and communities unique, namely the differences that characterize certain parts of the world.

Africa is associated with disasters, natural wealth, and unsanitary conditions. However, the continent is not only about endless jungles and deserts, devastation in cities, and primitive tools for life. The writer shares her memories of trips to Nigeria now when practice in the United States provides an opportunity to see a previously unknown contrast. It has been noted that the country is famous for music with a variety of languages, including tribal dialects, as well as Nollywood, which develops extraordinary films on a limited budget (Adichie). However, these remain unknown to the global public, as a single story with a destroyed Africa has been passed down repeatedly over the centuries. Only a small part of the people is aware of Nigerians’ positive social traits since they have no practical opportunity to transfer their work abroad. Thus, the basis for the flourishing of stereotypes is the prevalence of strong countries’ opinions and the impossibility of the growth of cultural and professional values among those subject to a single story’s destructive effect.

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Breaking Stereotypes

Transforming public opinion is a challenging task that requires international integration in both directions. The speech begins with the fact that the author describes a personal experience of familiarization with foreign literature and attempts to write independently in childhood. In particular, the woman portrayed the characters as blue-eyed and white, who were the opposite of Nigerian society (Adichie). Consequently, the pressure of domination by European and American authors led to the fact that the speaker lost her individuality associated with African culture. Middle-class children have more opportunities to convey their international relations vision than the working class and underprivileged people. It is the basis for understanding the stereotype as a construct that can be overcome by opening up learning possibilities and literature access. Moreover, African children need to strengthen writing, namely connections with organizations that will hear them and their stories. Thus, breaking down preconceptions is possible for societies that have open access to knowledge sources.


Society is divided due to the expected behavioral and cultural characteristics that people project onto the community. Adichie recounts individual memories from childhood in Nigeria and studies at the American University in the context of the perception of an African woman in a more developed country. It is a set of stereotypes about devastation and hunger and the mainland’s unification as one country, thereby creating a single story. In this case, the challenge is that bias is ingrained in demographics and infrastructure, as children in Nigeria do not have equal access to knowledge, literature, and self-expression tools. Consequently, American and European materials dominate the global stage, crowding out regional traditions and labeling them vulnerable. Adichie suggests that people ignore the personal stories of ethnic groups that characterize their cultures. Thus, society loses its individuality and originality behind the screen of a single message.

Works Cited

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The Danger of a Single Story.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, 2009, Web.

Chakvetadze, Lia G. et al. “Gender Stereotypes, Mass Media and Migrants”. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, vol. 20, no. Si 2, 2016.

Rodriguez, Claudia et al. “Unseen Differences: Cultural Diversity among Hispanic and Latino Students”. College and University, vol. 92, no. 3, 2017.

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