Essay on Stereotype and labelling

Stereotypes though not entirely untrue are usually the result of incomplete knowledge. Single story is one of the reasons for oversimplification of the complexity of the culture which could also lead to inaccurate labelling. The present essay ‘Danger of a Single story’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED lecture depicts the ill effects of stereotyping and how commonly it is prevalent in the minds of the people.

Single story induces stereotypes by creating identity markers of certain groups. The society often picks up a people with insufficient evidence and marks the identity of entire country based on that people. When Adiche in United States, she labelled Mexicans as illegal immigrants .Adichie has false image of Mexicans they were constantly in news about illegal drug activities and sneaking across the border without valid visas. However, she was shocked when she realised the truth of Mexican is way better than the assumption that she had made.  Stereotypes and labelling based on the gender, race, ethnicity and colour are some of the common scenarios in contemporary society. This could be the result of limited knowledge or conservative thinking. Stereotypical thinking and labelling can have a lasting effect on the person or the group that is being stereotyped. Single story and stereotypes are persuasive and powerful as they are from a broader society. They seem to develop so naturally until we rarely believe ourselves to be influenced by them. From Adiche’s situation, it shows that we often judge and categorise people into groups and having preconceived ideas based on one story in order to remember the identity of the groups easily.

Adiche spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Nigeria and spent a lot of time on reading westerners’ books. Therefore, when Adichie was seven, she could only write stories about western culture. Adiche had never thought a character of African like her could exist in books until she discovered African literature that has changed her perspective by implementing Nigerian characters and cultures into literature. When Adichie attended university in United States where she had direct exposure to the authentic western culture which in reality was quiet contrast to the image she had in mind based on the books she read. Westerners have negative view towards Nigerians and assumed Nigerian men to be physically abusive due to the image projected about them in the books.

Single story are born out of ignorance, lack of curiosity and close mindedness. An open minded is important as it opens up one’s mind to a world of possibilities and to make a better world. Stereotype and labelling causes people to feel low self-esteem and even depressed. Cultural diversity is one of the success factors of today’s contemporary world therefore every individual should strive to gain knowledge about various cultural practices and belief system in the world and focus on the positive effects of these unique cultures rather than stereotyping them.


Brown, R. E. (2012). Theology and Belief. The Blackwell Companion to Religion in America. New Jersey: Routledge.

Hegel, G. W. (2004). The philosophy of history. New Jersey: Courier Corporation.

Murray, D. (2013). Matter, magic, and spirit: representing Indian and African American belief. New York city: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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