• shazia nizam

The single story creates stereotypes

The single story creates stereotypes, whether, gender, race, religion, age, sexuality — any and all the cultures above. We used to talk about subcultures, political, musical, fashion led and so on. Tribes that bind groups together, form collective identities packaged up neatly in a bow. Now we talk about difference. The difference that makes us stand apart, that leads to a sense of the ‘other’ — something to be feared or demonised.


The globalisation of our cultures leads to fractured peoples, polarized by that difference. Difference seen through wealth, political views, gender, religion, colour. We see difference wherever we turn. Society and media highlight our difference. Colourism is played out on our screens and in job interviews. Ageing is seen as poor man’s game while youth is laden with riches. We still live in a man’ s world where we are constantly being shown the gender pay gap, lack of women in senior positions and the female body used to sell love and hate.

What do you see? The recent Ceebeebies campaign with children who when asked ‘how are you different?’ showed that children to not see physical difference. They did not define each other by the way they looked or how their outer bodies were. Difference was instead explained by distance or likes and dislikes. At what point does our conditioning begin that we see difference from the eyes and not the heart. And at what point do we begin to place bias around what we see. Conscious and Unconscious .


Where do we place affinity bias. Is it with people we look like or sound like. Is it people we see more around us? When does social standing, financial parity and where we live begin to limit our world.


Sofia Coppola omits race, in the Beguiled remake. Christopher Nolan omits the Indians, the muslims and the women in the acclaimed and the otherwise incredibly well made ‘Dunkirk’. Are they telling their stories the way they want. Is there rhyme and reason. Are they blind to the colour they forget to represent or do they make that choice.

Sure, we are all born as individuals and with the ability to choose. Choose our values, our aspirations, our goals. Our friends, acquaintances and companions. In todays internet clad existence algotrtithms suggest to us what to like , where to go, who to add as friends and fake news tells us who are our foes.

Our environment takes over like an amorphous fog serving delicacies for us to consume and how to consume. How much and what intervals to consume.


So we come back to choice. Where is our choice. What are we really choosing and how are we thinking. The world is getting smaller and we are all six degrees away from separation. But what do we really know about each other. How do we understand each other.

Cultural Intelligence is needed to become aware of where we place bias in our lives and how our world view impacts our thoughts, decisions and actions. If we are to navigate these choppy waters and steer towards understanding each other, celebrating our difference and learning how those differences actually better our lives — we need to begin here.

#Politics #Gender #Equality #Race #History #Culture

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