I traveled to country X sometimes ago and I met a middle-aged man who asked me where I came from. Well, he wasn’t the only one who asked me that question-almost everyone did- but his reaction to my response was remarkable. His face brightened and I never anticipated his next question: “do you know Rashidi Yekini?”. I mean, so many football legends have emerged after Rashidi, may Allah forgive him and rest his soul. I asked him how he fell in love with him and his response was again, epic: “he’s a very humble man and a good muslim”.
I was swept off my feet because this man’s impression of Nigerians, based on Rashidi’s character (not even based on his footballing history) was that of humility and spiritual uprightness. He wasn’t even worried about boko haram and our high rate of corruption. From that day, I had no other choice but to behave like another humble Rashidi from Nigeria!
This is the positive side of stereotyping and generalizations. By default, human minds are inclined towards judging a group of people based on a random member (atomistic generalization) and judging an individual based on the group they belong to (holistic generalization). But oftentimes, we concentrate on the negatives. We see one bad apple, and we label the entire bunch as blameworthy. It takes a whole lot of experience and exposure to outgrow this natural instinct and begin to see people for whom they are and not define them by their race, nationality or social group.
Wherever you go, you become an automatic ambassador. Always strive to be the best prototype of the group you represent.
You are very right my dear sister. One person commits an offence, his or her group is blamed. That’s part of the reason why, when we are about to react negatively to something done to us in public that we don’t like, we should stop and think about how our reactions affect, not only us, but people’s perspective of the group we represent. May Allah increase you in knowledge, ameen.
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Thanks Sis. Halima