The people behind the stereotype: “African Men”

by Morals & Values, Self-Knowledge – “Can any thing good come from Nazareth?” … “Come and see.” (Jn 1, 46) As the apostles bear witness, stereotypes have existed throughout human history. Their damaging influence continues today in each one of us.

The video promotes a cool initiative to change the “image” of Africa. It offers a change in mentality, an invitation to overcome our prejudices and ask ourselves: who are these people really? No doubt we can all relate to some of the preconceived ideas that we see in movies.

The word “stereotype” comes from the Greek words στερεός (stereos), “firm, solid” and τύπος (typos), “impression.” Hence, a “solid impression.” The problem is that it is a “solid impression” built on a really flimsy base: a commercial, a video, news broadcast, a story told by a friend, a bad first encounter, hearing the parent’s complaining at the dinner table about so and so…

The amount of messages and “ideas” that we receive each day from outside media sources is literally unthinkable. Trying to control it all would be a sure road to insanity. Nevertheless, we, as Christians, have a duty to make a continual “examination of conscience.” The moment we stop asking the question, “Who is this person in front of me?” we can kiss goodbye any chance of friendship, of deep encounter, of fulfilling communion.

We cannot authentically relate with others if we do not step outside of ourselves, our comfort zone, and enter into the mystery of who they are. This can be ascetic and frustrating at times. The thought, “there he or she goes again…” is a tough one to knock down. But that’s what we must do. It’s worth it. The one next to you, that friend, that brother or sister, that father or mother, that teacher… are worth it.

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